1. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Testing your writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JetBlackGT, Jul 12, 2014.

    Anybody else test their stories for veracity?

    I made cheese today, the way my characters make it in the books. I have made something similar, out of cow's milk but my characters have goats. Considering I live half a block from a Pilgrim's Natural Foods, you'd think I'd've done this earlier but today I made a batch, exactly like in the books (minus yanking on goat teats).

    If you've ever had Boursin or Rondele' cheeses, it is like that. Exactly like that and delicious! Next batch will be cow's milk again but with the addition of thin sliced green onion added to the dill and basil.

    I know the sailer idea will work (the characters made a sailboat out of a motorcycle trailer to sail on the empty freeways) and the rest of the stuff *should* work. I've made the Swedish Torch fire thing and buried a dutch oven, from the army-navy store with a small fire that had burned down to embers. That worked too! The traps worked and catching crayfish the way they do in the book worked.

    Anybody else go out and test your ideas to make sure they are realistic or feasible? I hate reading books that have illogical or mythical concepts in them which are supposed to be realistic. It is hugely distracting (for me).
     
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  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    Most of my stories,for one reason or another, are set abroad in highly unlikely circumstances (for me anyway). Would love to go on a world tour but I guess that's just wishful thinking :D but yes, realism is very essential to a good story, because there is a thin line between fantastical thinking and complete manure--once you give the reader the impression that your verse is a game maker Heaven, you've lost the essence of meaning in your tale. I have tried to verify scenarios and their possibility through online research and by speaking to locals--trying out products and experimenting along the way to give more weight to my claims. But I guess not exactly as you have, as my stories aren't often action or adventure oriented.
     
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  3. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    One day I'll stop writing fantasy and I'll be able to do this. But anything that's not magical and is possible and feasible to test, well I test it. I do my best to keep things as accurate as possible.
     
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  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Depends. If I can (a) do it and (b) do it safely, then I'll test it. :D I would rather not wind up in a hospital or dead. I could see the gravemarker now: "Here lies Link the Writer, killed because he was doing something for a story."
     
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  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've done a number of things my characters do. I sometimes experiment with primitive technology - building fires without matches, etc. I've made arrowheads, bathed in snow and ashes, made and drank Labrador tea, etc. I'm not actually a hunter and I've never brain-tanned buckskin, but I probably could if I had to (I've read lots about it, at least!).

    It's nice to know how my characters would and could do things, and it's nice to know that it works. I don't have to be able to do it well or easily, but if I've done something once, I know my characters could do it expertly.
     
  6. Artist369
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    Artist369 Active Member

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    I wish I could do this, but sci-fi is in it's own category and the hardest to test, yet the one I insist on writing. XD
     
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  7. Alexz7272
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    Alexz7272 Member

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    I definitely do this all the time! My family is from Lithuania and therefore I have had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world with relative ease. As I typically like to write somewhat historical fiction, this has helped me immensely as I have visited many historical sights. I also currently have my own 4 acre sustainable farm in Colorado with some livestock and such, so I have that hands on ability that relates to decades ago. I also love to build stuff by hand, especially for the farm or house! It really does make a world of difference in your writing (in my opinion) when you can have that exposure and knowledge. However, I have never not had access to such things so I could be incorrect. For me at least, it helps a lot!
     
  8. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    That is AWESOME!

    My books are end-of-the-world stuff so sustainability is key. The characters plant winter wheat every fall and they are planting alfalfa next year and leaving the main fields fallow as they burn and switch fields for rotation. Their animals need food so the horses and mule get the big fields one year and the people get it next year. The geese and ducks walk through the wheat fields, eating the stubble and pooping in the field as fertilizer :) I can only hope I am getting it all right or my characters are all going to die. :-(
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally no, except for descriptions of hand to hand and melee combat, which I work out very carefully. Most everything else I rely upon text and guide books by experts or personal experience.
     
  10. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I always fact check anything that I am not sure of. Can this character travel 100 miles in two days on foot across an even plain assuming food, water, and breaks are not necessary? Time to research average walking speed.

    If I cannot confirm that something is possible or true given its parameters, then I find another way.
     
  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would never turn down an opportunity to do something that a character of mine needs to do, because first-hand experience gives you the insight it's difficult to get otherwise. However, first-handing is not always possible.

    I use a historical setting—late 19th century western states and Nova Scotia—so there is a lot of information out there, when I can't actually do something myself. I have traveled to these places, so that's helpful. I strive for authenticity, and I certainly would never knowingly write something I know is wrong. But I also would never let a lack of personal experience stop me from writing either. If I need to know how something was done, I research my ass off, basically. I head for primary sources first, then secondary ones. Photos are a big help, too.
     
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  12. Graphics solution
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    Graphics solution Member

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    Nice discovery.
     
  13. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    I steer clear of writing about things of which I have no direct experience, as much as I can. I'm very fortunate in that my mother was a hippy and did all sorts of ancient crafts when I was a kid. I liked this and continued the tradition as an adult on my own. I am forever exploring and testing my creativity in this way. I posted in the skills thread about some of my crafts and arts. I like to think I have a broad range of experience in many things from homesteading to survival, martial arts and intellectual pursuits. If I dont have a skill and I want it, I acquire it. It comes in handy all the time.

    I admire your pursuit of authenticity here. I can always tell when a writer has acquired a skill from reading other fiction writers rather than researching the subject directly. It misses the details or violates some basic rule of the subject and rings false.
     
  14. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    And when you naturally jam a sliver of wood under your fingernail when you do something, it is great to include it, if only in homage to the fingernail that took a sliver for the team.
     

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