A Circle of Moonlight, Books, Commentary

A Symbolic Post about Symbols

This is kind of a weird post about the dinkus, which I literally did not know was called that until I looked it up. And you may very well ask yourself, what in the Sam Hill is a dinkus?

So, when you are writing a book, one of the things that you have to do is to is to separate the book into chapters, right? Everyone knows this. Chapters have been used since the Dark Ages. But things happen within chapters; time passes, perspectives change, settings change. You can’t start a new chapter every time that happens, unless you are James Patterson, and you are not James Patterson.

This is where the dinkus comes in. The dinkus is a break within the chapter. It is a subtle hint to the reader that something is different. You could use–and people do use–an extra carriage return, but the cool thing to do is to use a symbol. You can just use three asterisks, like this.


And that’s fine. But you can use anything you want. In A CIRCLE OF FIRELIGHT, one of the main characters is a black rabbit, who is a symbol himself, so I used that as the dinkus.

I thought, and still think, that this is very cool. I think that the readers (both of them) figured this out, and got it, and that is fine. You don’t have to use the dinkus, but it’s a nice touch.

So I wrote the sequel, A CIRCLE OF MOONLIGHT, and I wanted to use a dinkus for that, and in the early drafts I used a dinkus that was a minimalist interpretation of the changing of the phases of the moon. It looked OK. But when I tried uploading the Word file to Amazon for them to set up the Kindle file, hey howdy, guess what. The dinkus didn’t carry over. Well, okay, FINE. This is one of the little annoying fiddling things that you have to deal with when you deal with publishing.

So I started thinking. Okay. If the image file won’t upload, what can I use that I know will work? The short answer for this is something called Unicode. The internet runs off of Unicode, and Unicode is a huge repository of symbols. I went looking for symbols, and there is a kanji symbol for moon:

So that looks kind of sharp. But I looked a little deeper, and there is a Unicode variant that has a circle around it:

Ding! Ding! DING! That’s the dinkus. It’s a circle! Around the moon! For a book called A CIRCLE OF MOONLIGHT! Boom. And it works when you upload it to Kindle. And a little more research shows that there’s a similar ideograph for fire!

So I have been spending all morning trading out the rabbit symbol in A CIRCLE OF FIRELIGHT for the fire ideograph for the new Kindle and print versions.

And because everything in the world is not quite perfect, it turns out that in Japanese, these symbols also mean “Monday” and “Tuesday.” And this is fine. If you are reading either novel in Japan, and you are wondering why on earth there’s the symbol for “Tuesday” in the middle of the book, well, this is why, and I wrote this post to explain it. So there you go.