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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. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Actually the way to light a pipe would probably be with a small brand around the evening fire. Tobacco in the middle ages was rare and even those who smoked it would not have smoked it continually. So a pipe in the evening would probably be as much as would be smoked. As for the fire itself it would probably have been lit with flint. There's a lot of evidence that prior to and during medieval times people used to carry around a small piece of metal / steel and a small flint stone quite commonly and if you have some dry moss etc, it's by far the quickest and easiest way to light a fire. The set of flint and steel is referred to as a striker or fire striker and would have been carrie around in a little tinder box.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  2. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

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    That's another thing I researched: tinder boxes. Late in my novel three characters are in a dark alley. They want to light a candle. Then I thought, Wait, how? It was quite a process, I discovered, using a tinderbox. Then I had to go through the rest of the novel and make sure there was always flame integrity.

    Re matches, the dragon in my novel breathes a substance that catches fire on contact with the air. A character speculates that if he could reduce the substance to a paste, dry a glob on a small stick, and cover the gob in a sealant that could later be abraded away, causing the paste to ignite, he would quickly become the wealthy hero of sculleries and maids everywhere. But that sentence was so convoluted, I took it out.
     
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  3. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Chesterama,

    Lunstrom invented a safety match in 1855. :confused: But you're right, lighters were invented before matches. The covers of cards of matches were used for advertising from 1894, so I think my character would be able to use matches.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  4. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi psychotick,

    Thanks for this. By a brand, do you mean a taper?

    My smoker has come to England from France in 1899. Presumably, tobacco would have been available in France at that time? I wonder if it would have had a distinctive smell different to English brands. He's a would be assassin, so the smell of his tobacco could be an interesting plot device.
     
  5. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Stephenspower,

    Thanks for mentioning tinder boxes. I had forgotten about them.

    I'm also researching gas light and electricity. I'm not sure what colour gas light would have been. An interesting fact I learnt was the gas lights were placed high up facing towards the ceiling so often Victorian rooms would have been quite dark.
     
  6. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

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    "The dog has been murdered": That's funny. You could so an anthology on that theme.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  7. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi stephenspower,

    The dog has been resurrected. This will save the MC from having to train another dog. :D

    Of course, this may confuse the murderer...
     
  8. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Yes, brand or taper.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Ruby likes this.
  9. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I'm doing some funny research today, trying to work out how many footsteps across the internal floor of a time machine would be. It's similar to Doctor Who's but bigger. :)
     
  10. Spider

    Spider Sage

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    Lol, this is a fun thread!

    When I first started pursuing my novel, I had a character who was cursed with the body of a scorpion (kind of like a weird centaur). I had to research a bit of scorpion anatomy, and upon discovering that a scorpion's anus was on its tail, the idea fell apart. I couldn't have him pooping on his back, nor could I ignore this vital piece of information!

    It's a pity, but I'm pretty glad I changed my MC. I was initially trying to make my character stand out, but in doing so I focused more on his appearance than his depth and complexity as a person... er, beast. Now, I'd much rather write about a character who's defined by his actions and words rather than by the way he looks.
     
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  11. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    I just took a class on medieval dance.

    I hope to never be seen with any of those people in public.
     
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  12. TheokinsJ

    TheokinsJ Troubadour

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    Wierdest thing I've ever researched: How did a knight relieve himself when he was in his armour. When it takes an hours to get into your mail and plate, it'd be quite a wait if after all that, you needed to go to the toilet.
     
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  13. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Scary-funny research today. We've been getting some big wind up here, and a bad rumor of snow tonight. But while I was playing with my dogs at the river a HUGE bellow of wind came at us. But, across the river was a lot of sand and dirt, but the world disappeared when this wind carried all of this sand across the valley. I grabbed for the dogs, spitting out sand, eyes squeezed shut as we squatted down to wait it out. With all the wind it lasted a few minutes.
     
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  14. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    Today, I found the downside to writing feminist fantasy in historical-inspired settings. I have spent a lot of time today googling menstruation in Ancient Rome. Wouldn't recommend it. Horrifying images.
     
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  15. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Today I'm researching poodles: where they originated, when they first had their fur trimmed into the distinctive style, why people are less allergic to them than other breeds. They originated in Germany but are usually thought of as French dogs. They are good hunting dogs and worked in circuses which suits my story very well and the breed was standardised in France, which also fits into my plot. They suffer from some conditions such as hip displaysia and Addison's disease. They are intelligent and trainable.

    I looked up the fur style because I've drawn an illustration for when my MC finds the poodle dead and needed to see if the fur in my picture was historically correct. I think it's fine.
     
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Ophiucha,
    This is an interesting subject. How do we deal with this if we're writing historically correct fantasy and our heroine is female and not a child or middle aged? I was even unsure about my MC's dog being female!
     
  17. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I am seriously considering (and in fact, have started writing) taking my goofy band of Virgin Goddesses (Athena, Artemis, and Hestia) and writing it. So of course, there can't be any Spinal Tap satire... it's three heroines in a magical world with powers I don't really need to explain because, well, they are goddesses.

    Anyway, there's a Greek vs. Norse (Norse wins) premise which basically forces Artemis and others to walk among mortals. It's a Greek goddess' POV, but I needed a reason for the Norse gods to sack Olympus. Zeus is reason enough, but I wanted to know how Artemis should feel about his loss of power.

    So, Zeus is a(n) [insert family-unfriendly word or phrase here]. That I knew. What I didn't know is the line he crossed with Artemis, and it was the typical philandering. I think shape-shifting in the form of his own daughter to impregnate her friend is about as low as you can go. That was the point where I thought, yeah, Zeus needs to get his butt kicked!

    Less funny, but pleasant: Artemis is quite likable. I didn't want Athena as the MC because she's too well known, making her automatically awesome. Artemis is much like other characters I've written, making it easy for me to stick to one first-person POV through the whole story.

    I'm enjoying researching Greek and Norse mythology as well, and hope to gradually introduce some of the more obscure gods and goddesses from both. Elli is the Norse goddess of old age. Somehow, I love her name being Elli. Wasn't Aunt Ellie the old lady from Vacation?‚Äč The one strapped to the roof of the family truckster?
     
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  18. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

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    I usually kind of gloss over it in the same vague way that most writers gloss over using the loo, but my current story has seven women in it who are under 50 and over 12 travelling together and it seemed like it'd be an oversight to not at least consider how they would deal with this. Particularly since one of them gets pregnant at one point and I'll probably have to mention them missing a month.

    My research told me too things: one, PMS jokes are as old as language itself, and two, we have made great innovations in feminine hygiene technology. Rolled up sheets of papyrus paper, or cotton wrapped around a twig. Sometimes with herbs and honey on the stick to soothe cramps, which... seems like it would cause other problems down the road. Or just bleed everywhere.

    Which, in a group of seven women, actually does seem like it'd be something to think about. The amount of spare cotton sheets they'd need to be carrying with them for more than just a quick bandaging wouldn't be a minor consideration. Particularly since they are in hiding, on the road, for about five months.
     
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  19. Michelle Ann

    Michelle Ann Acolyte

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    I spent hour researching brewing in the middle ages and was delighted to discover that the vast majority of it was done by monks, thus invoking images of very drunk monks behind their respectable facade. I'm trying to work it in to my story.
     
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  20. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    One thing to bear in mind about the majority of alcoholic beverages that were commonly consumed (as in household consumption) was that they fell into the classification of what is know as 'small beers.' Small beer has a much lower alcohol content than what we are accustomed to now a days, and it is why we are shocked when we hear that children regularly consumed alcohol, and still do in many parts of Europe. Small beer was simply safer to drink than water.
     
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