MOPNoWriMo Day 18: Trivial Pursuits (16/2/2012)

Day eighteen: Target wordcount: Still 74000. Words written: 74100

Greetings from the Jorvik viking festival. Another chapter written, a long one this time that has suddenly pitched me to the end of the second act and left me staring at the third. The secondary protagonist has sprung a trap and now stares ashen-faced at the consequences. There’s some noodling about fate and destiny which at the moment feels like noodling and will thus not survive the rewrites.

When writing fantasy, I find that some research into the real history of a roughly equivalent period of real history is helpful even when it’s a period I think I know quite well. I don’t mean for the big sweep of events, the politics, the intrigues, the new technologies and how they changed the societies around them. Although that’s all interesting stuff too (if you’re me), I like to have done that before I even start. If I were to set something like the arrival of gunpowder or the printing press into the background of the story,  I can’t imagine not wanting to explore the consequences of this change as a major thread of the story, and so I ought to know as much as I need to before I even start. Not that every alternate world needs to reflect the real one in every step, but I’m not sure why I’d have something like gunpowder (say) show up without wanting to examine its consequences, and I’d feel I needed to understand what, for example, the real world consequences were and why the impact in China was quite different to that seen in Western Europe (and you could write a book about just that, I reckon).

What I mean are the little things. How did they light fires, what materials did they use to make clothes, how did they clean themselves. Trivia, really. The sort of thing that the knowing of would never have much impact on the plot, but make a world come alive, except finding out about them in this first draft give them the one chance to change my story after all.

Also, if nothing else, they give me something to write about for half a page if I get stuck. For the next few days, I’m going to be deluged by vikings. If you find the odd half-page of viking trivia in something of mine in the next couple of years, now you know why.


One Response to “MOPNoWriMo Day 18: Trivial Pursuits (16/2/2012)”

  1. Matt says:

    And if we find several characters who used to be an adventurer like us until they took an arrow in the knee, we’ll know where that came from also :)

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