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What's the funniest research you've ever had to do for your fantasy novel?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ruby, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Recently, I was writing a short story for a challenge here. I posted a question asking who a knight would take with him on a quest. Well, someone suggested that I read the Sword in the Stone by T H White and mentioned the Disney Cartoon with the same title.

    I misunderstood this, and thought he'd recommended that I just watch the cartoon as research. It's a very enjoyable film but it's a musical, comedic and not a very reliable historical source. However, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

    So, what's the funniest, most unusual or interesting research you've ever done for your Fantasy novel?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Leg hair.
    The hobbit-inspired anfylk race in my setting have very long hair on their legs and feet. At some point I ended up discussing various types of leg-hair fashion and different ways of braiding the hair on one's legs.
     
  3. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Horsemanship lessons at a stunt school. I learned how to do a backflip into a saddle.
     
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    So far, the history of the BLT sandwich. We have a character who has not been in the Mortal Realm since WWII, who very briefly mentions that it had not existed the last time he was here. Being me, I had to make sure I was being accurate - not only in his statement, but in his perception of the statement, since this is his first time in the New World.

    Yes, I'm just that crazy.

    Eventually we're going to have me take handgun classes, because I'm not happy using hearsay and internet sources for something that features so prominently in our series.
     
  5. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Medieval pubs in Prague. I found photos of a modern day pub, in a 17th century building (but it's probably far older than that), that had row after row of skulls over the bar. (I hope the skulls were fake...otherwise, ew.) There were fire eaters and jugglers and such in the pub performing, but it was the skull decoration that I loved so much.

    I used it as is description-wise, though I put my own twist on how the skulls got there...
     
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  6. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Svrtnsse,

    I think this is hilarious! You obviously went one step further than JRR Tolkien with this!

    Do they also have hair on the soles of their feet so that they have no need for shoes, as in The Hobbit?
     
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  7. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi buyjupiter, did the skulls inspire you to write the whole story? Did you, also, take photos of the pub? There has to be a back story to this!
     
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  8. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Malik, after you learnt how to do this, did you give this ability to many of the characters in your books?
     
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  9. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

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    I once spent half an hour trying to research the lighter, and how in general someone in a 19th century aesthetic would light a candle. I ended up settling for something similar to 'Döbereiner's lantern' and got a few paragraphs into the scene the character uses it until I remembered that matches existed.
     
  10. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    No, I needed a mood setting description as well as some foreshadowing and the skulls were just the perfect fit. I happened upon them while I was doing research (I've never been to Prague) looking for an interior of an old pub to base the description on. Why make it completely up when you have the internet and pictures?

    Oh, and upon looking it up again, my bad, it was fire juggling not eating. But still. Pretty darn intense. Here's the pictures if anybody else wants a look-see:
    Stredoveka Krcma (Medieval Tavern) - Prague - Reviews of Stredoveka Krcma (Medieval Tavern) - TripAdvisor
     
    Ruby likes this.
  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Trying to work on a project in a Viking setting, I spent time looking at Norse myths and legends, and specifically stories about doctors. I came to a passage where someone was talking to his nurse, who was pulling an arrow out of his heart. A white chunk came out, and he said, "My king feeds me well, I am fat even in the heart." Then he died.
     
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  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Only to one, because I wasn't going through all that for nothing. I also gave him the ability to backflip out of a saddle, which doesn't look nearly as cool and which I never quite grasped the purpose of.

    Flipping into a saddle is a fairly simple trick; no more demanding than a skin-the-cat on rings. You just have to have a strong core, good hands, and an understanding horse. If your horse doesn't like it, she'll sidestep and drop you. Also, if she looks back to ask you what the hell you think you're doing, you might accidentally kick her in the face.

    My series is a portal fantasy and the MC is a stunt man. He can do this on his riding horse but his destrier is too big and too dumb to put up with those kinds of shenanigans.

    EDIT: I should point out, too, that I didn't take this course specifically for the book or to teach my character how to do this; I'm not that insane. I had been taking classes at the school and it came up that they had a guy coming in special to teach a master class on horsemanship.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
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  13. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I've taken a lot of strange day/weekend trips to nearby cities for the sake of esoteric museum or garden visits. I went all the way to Portland once in my first year of college because I wanted to know how a particular cheese tasted and they didn't sell it in Vancouver. I felt this was justified, since my main character's hobby was cheesemaking, but still, it was like a 6-hour train ride.
     
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  14. Motley

    Motley Minstrel

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    Yesterday I was researching the Victorian era opinion on masturbation and came across some rather horrible looking metal contraption men would wear to prevent them from doing it.
     
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  15. Shreddies

    Shreddies Troubadour

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    Hmm, Hirsutism and the reproductive cycle of squid.
     
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  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Thanks for all these interesting details about your research. I decided to set the time travel novel I'm writing in Victorian England and I learnt that there was toxic arsenic in the wallpaper. :eek: Children who chewed the wallpaper would die; rich people couldn't understand why they felt so ill in their own houses but fine when they stayed at the seaside. Their rooms were damp and the warmth from fires released the arsenic into the atmosphere. Arsenic was even in William Morris' designs. Also, the corsets women wore could permanently damage their ribs and was the cause of fainting and breathlessness.
     
  17. Shreddies

    Shreddies Troubadour

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    Yup, and the 'wasp waist' style of corsetting was so severe that it would rearrange their internal organs and could cause severe health issues.
     
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  18. hots_towel

    hots_towel Minstrel

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    im not exactly sure how "funny" this is but i was doing research for a scene where the characters are just having lunch and talking (i really like those light hearted scenes). i had to look into restaurants and food service in late medieval/renaissance times, or even roman times.

    interesting to learn that few people back then had kitchens to prepare food, so they always ate out or bought it to go.
     
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  19. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    It bears mentioning that fantasy writing was a totally different game twenty years ago, when there was no Wikipedia, YouTube, or Google and you had to call the reference desk at the library several times a week. . . or figure it out yourself by trial and error.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  20. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Some of the neatest research I've done was on 1700s Russian short swords and daggers, renaissance Italian bakeries, and herbalism in the 1600s.
     
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