Fantasy book research #1

I have notes everywhere. Some are on note cards, some scribbled in completely unreadable handwriting in one of a dozen or so spiral notebooks, plus two three-ringed binders. Not to mention the fancy journal, drawing pad, and odd bits of sticky notes and what not scattered about. Of course, I also have piles of digital notes which are about as organized. Today, I decided to flip through some of my digital notes and came across this little gem:

A trade-ship (Here based upon the east India men) averages 4-5 knots in favorable wind, providing 120 miles/day. ( OR formula of hull speed = 1.34 * SQRT(waterline length)( Rowing is likely to make no more than 3-4 mph. Barges of goods are pulled along the shoreline by use of oxen, and transport of persons or important goods will be done by ‘narrow boats’ which are rowed by 10-20 oarsmen, depending upon the size of the boat.

There was a lot of other stuff along with it, but this little excerpt points out something that is a rather large part of my writing process. Research. Now, I don’t even bother trying to research to the point where I might speak intelligently on the topic, though in most hobbies that’s where I go. However, I do try to get to the point where I can develop details that are, if nothing else, consistent with reality, or at very least can nose past a BS test. Sometimes I totally miss the mark, but I do try.

I think one of the most difficult thing about researching for a book is that when you’re looking into a topic, most of the stuff you might find on the internet is specific to ‘not-pretend’ applications, meaning that you get a lot of ‘it depends’ sorts of answers, which are less than helpful. Sometimes, I really just want information that would give me the bounds on reality. So, in the example above, which took a bit of searching, I could reasonably claim a 300 mile trip might take between 2.5 and 5 days. Now I have something that at least scrapes the realm of plausibility.


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