1. I-know-write

    I-know-write New Member

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    Everyday Life With Wings

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by I-know-write, Mar 23, 2017.

    In my story's world, the characters have wings and tails and are capable of flight. I've already done some suspension of belief and slight adaptation of anatomy for this to be somewhat realistic, though the story is drama and action driven rather than a sci-fi explanation. Having winged characters, however, poses some problems when they need to complete daily tasks and functions in a world which isn't suited to accommodate wings. I would love some suggestions and tips for creating a world better suited for daily life with wings.

    The society the protagonist and side characters live in has minimal technology. There is electricity, running water, and sewage systems as well as a functioning economy and government. What my world-building lacks is the finer details which require more detailed thought.

    Basically, I have to think of all the small stuff, like beds, furniture, house-planning, architecture, and many other things that accommodate the existance of tails and wings, which take up space, even when folded. The city the protag. lives in is sort of a seaside village with open air markets and lots of nice plazas and bright colors, just for reference. Flight and/or walking is the primary mode of transportation, though things like carts/wagons are used to carry/pull cargo and supplies.

    Any suggestions would be helpful and greatly appreciation, but here are some examples of things which I am lacking:
    • best kind of bed for winged characters?
    • furniture (especially chairs) for wings?
    • formal attire (keeping wings and weather in mind)
    • weapons for hunting (from air)
    • architecture in homes
    • stairs vs. ladders in homes?
    • for playgrounds, slides are a no-go, but are swings feasible?
    • most reasonable + convenient way for my characters to bathe
    • ideas for sports? (characters aren't born with wings, they grow during childhood and are flight ready by end of teenage years)
    • can my characters still use regular toilets or do I have to come up with something else?
    • would cooking on open fire be too dangerous? What about some sort of stone oven?
    • etc.
    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. Bill Chester

    Bill Chester Active Member

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    Even on non-terrestrial planets, the winged creatures would have to have evolved, so they would have a preferred position for sleeping. On earth, clawed birds sleep standing on one foot with their feet clamped onto a branch (there may be other sleeping states--I don't know), and bats hang from their feet. These are no doubt evolutionarily determined.

    Wings are big, and if these creatures are anywhere near-human-sized, the wings would be enormous.

    Can you describe the physical characteristics of the creatures?
     
  3. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    This world is obviously ambitious. There's nothing wrong with that, ambition is never a bad thing, it's what drives us forward. I would also counter with a friendly reminder that it's good to be able to reel yourself in at times. Don't be too attached to an idea, or be prepared to change it a bit when it's necessary (I've learned this plenty of times).

    That being said, there's nothing inherently wrong with any of this. It's more in the execution. My biggest piece of advice is that you don't have to completely work out every detail of this world you're creating. How many times are you truly going to talk about beds or playgrounds or bathtubs? Focusing on interesting things like architecture is what most readers will be looking for anyway. You also don't want to be describing in a couple paragraphs that the houses have ladder/stairs, that people dress like "X" or that these people have specialized latrines. Firstly, that kinda defeats the whole experience of exploring the world. It's so much better to learn about these things very slowly, but also to make sure that what you do talk about is still part of the story in some way.

    Unless this is going to be a movie and you have to come up with a design for literally everything, then don't stress so much on details and in-depth world building. Worry more about telling your story, focusing on your characters, who they are and why we (the reader) should care about them. You don't even have to tell the audience at first that they have wings or anything, simply have your character soar through the sky and land. Then you can have a prospective love interest, for example, watching how he/she folded their wings and how much elegance they admired about them. You could even say something along these lines: "He felt like he was almost invisible to her, as her tail was to her body, important yet hidden from sight. How could he ever get her attention, and even if he did, would it change how she saw him?" If these people have feathers, scales, or a mixture of both on their wings and stuff, now would also provide a good opportunity for the story to address that.

    Stuff like that gets the reader interested, and you're showing them the world, not just telling them about it like it's laid out on a silver platter. Some things you will have to describe, but you can do it creatively, and you'll find that there's only so much you have to show the reader. If you're telling them, it creates a whole can of worms you're dumping out, and then who's interested anymore, they know the world so why keep reading?

    Hope some of that helps, let me know if something I wrote needs clarification, and maybe you won't need to work out so many technical things now. Good luck, and have fun!
     
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  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    A few thoughts:

     
  5. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    My characters are all dragons. I think I can help.

    I'll assume your characters are humans with bird wings on their backs and tails coming from just above the buttock for my answers. Feel free to correct me so I can give better suggestions.

    Beds-- It can be a regular bed, but wider to accommodate the wings and wider to accommodate the tail. (Or they could sleep on their stomachs.) It can be a perch, like a bird perch or a bat perch, if they're not flat-footed.
    Chairs would have places cut out for the wings. Not like holes, but like divots. Like a circular cookie cutter took a bite out of each corner of the chair. Or a tall, thin part that supports the back right between the wings.
    I would imagine for shirts, dresses, etc, especially formal wear, there should be slits for the wings that could close up somehow (or don't.) Longer slits could be considered sexy. For tails there would be a small hole in the back of the pants to thread the tail through. If the tail is barbed, though, it might also need to be a slit instead of a round hole.
    Also, togas would be very accommodating for both tails and wings.
    Assuming for a second your characters' feet are more like my dragons' (giving them the ability to perch), shoes may be a problem. Although, the trickiest part would be the soles. The tops of the feet could be covered fairly easily I imagine... You know those fake costume boots/shoes?
    Swings seem unnecessary, but a wide bar for perching or a bench for sitting would be feasible. There just needs to be some way to avoid falling off.
    Weapons for hunting: anything shootable or droppable. For droppable items, make them either disposable or incredibly difficult to break. Arrows would also be good.
    Architecture: few if any ways to get to high places besides flying, unless, say, it's a care home for old folks whose wings are not what they used to be.
    Stairs would be best, since a ladder would be in a thin place, and unless your characters can compact their wings to a degree, they would probably find it tight.
    Sports: a mock war game where each team has two "armies" of four: an air force (fliers, cannot touch the ground) infantry (cannot fly.) The object would be score goals through a combination goal and basket. The ball would be passed between the ground players and the fliers.
    Toilets and fires seem okay.
     
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  6. I-know-write

    I-know-write New Member

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    Thanks so much for your help. In terms of clothing, the society is coastal and lives in a tropical climate, so they wear short clothing and I thought open-back tanks would be best to allow the wings to have maximum freedom. Thank you for your other suggestions, I found them very helpful. For future reference, my characters have regular human feet, no bird or other feet, so perches are out of the question, unless they're more like platforms, or sort of like big old logs they could crouch on.
     
  7. I-know-write

    I-know-write New Member

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    Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate your advice. I'm actually a soon-to-be film student, so I tend to get caught up with the images in my head when it comes to putting them down on paper or typeface. Thanks again for your advice!
     
  8. Quanta

    Quanta Senior Member

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    The length of the wings may require special adaption for chairs, etc., but wings at rest don't take much space at all. Take a look at chickens going about their daily foraging, wings tucked close to the body. The wings get in the way when they (try to) fly, but in a crowded space, a hen has plenty of leg power to launch herself up to a certain height, before wings are needed.

    I agree with Dr.Meow that all the details you’re looking for don’t need to be in the story, but if they help you to envision it, then go for it.
    One goes up and down a ladder facing in, so wings and tail wouldn't get in the way. Houses could have lofts without a ladder where the adults could fly up when they need to be away from kids.
    I don't suppose your characters would enjoy a dust bath as much as my chickens do... Showers would be most convenient, I think. They would have to be spacious enough to accommodate the flapping of wings, for drying them out.

    Have fun with your story.
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Would they even lay down? I would think some sort of squat would be better. They will probably be spindly legged compared to a non-winged human. Humans actually have pretty enormous legs compared to the size of our bodies, even when compared to the rest of the primates to which we are related. A winged version of a human would not want to carry that much extra weight around. Skinny legs.
    I like the chair that @Iain Aschendale showed. They were popular for a few minutes and I had a version of one. It seems like a good option for a winged humanoid.
    Pants. All kinds of pants. So many kinds of neato pants. No tops. What a pain to deal with when you have wings.
    Light-weight. When you fly, everything is about weight.
    Would they even have homes that are inside?
    See above question.
    Feasible, but where's the fun in a swing when you have wings? Isn't the point of a swing-set the mild approximation of flight? Why would you do that when you have the real thing?
    This seems pretty easy. In a river or natural body of water.
    Ah... now I understand the swing-set. :)
     
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  10. Charley_warlzz

    Charley_warlzz New Member

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    Hi! I, too, am writing about characters with wings, so i feel your pain.

    A lot of this depends on how their wings work, but I'll try and help!

    Bed: depends. You specified that the wings grow in childhood - so, presumably, they will spend their nights lying flat, since they likely wouldnt have the balance to sleep standing/crouching etc without the wings. Nor do they have the right feet to hold on to stuff. So beds would probably the best - maybe slightly wider than normal beds to fit them in. For comfort purposes, they'd probably lie on their side (for their tail) or stomach, but the wings would still probably get in the way. Maybe they fold in, which makes it easier for them to sleep (but still only on their side or stomach - think about what happens when you fall asleep on your arm. Its horrible.) Maybe they wrap around the character when they sleep - this not only makes sense because they wouldn't get cramped, but also provides them with warmth and protection. However, you'd have to consider which parts of the wings would get sore if you lay on them - maybe if the main part (feathers, or the flaps in bat wings, etc - parts that arent just structural) can be leaned on, you can have it so they sleep on that part and the rest of the wing goes around them. Also, i imagine large quilts would be constricting for the wings - even sheets would be iffy. They live in a fairly warm place though, so maybe they wont be necessary anyway. If they are, though, they could maybe have a section cut out for the wings, or go under them.

    Furniture: i think for the most part, furniture could be normal. But maybe for chairs, you could specifically use stools so the wings can spread out - the backs of chairs are specifically for balance, so are kind of unnecessary when you have wings. This also allow the tail some space if its above the butt, if it's below you could maybe have a hole in the stool. Or maybe have a really short back that stops before the point where the wings join the skin, so they can jut over the top, and a cut out in the centre for the tail. As for decorations, maybe they should have very little clutter that could be knocked over. I knock enough things over with my arms, i couldn't imagine what i'd do with wings. Especially if they were just growing into them - they'd be running into them left and right! Also, thats a good point for child proofing the houses - two extra appendages need to be acknowledged. Plus, young kids are likely to try and fly, so maybe no glass coffee tables - that could lead to injuries.

    Formal attire: Low backs are your friend - backless dress, low backed tops, tunic-esque things. Maybe they could have shirts that can be pulled up so the wings come through slits in the back that can be fastened. Or some kind of tie could be used to pull in together at the top. Maybe shirts that have a hole cut into the back, so the wings go through. The tails easier - low hung pants or holes will do. Bare skin might not bother these people, since theyre all in the same boat. This one is slightly more difficult.

    Weapons: Bow and arrow, crossbow, throwing knives etc - anything ranged. You don't want to be getting into close combat while midair, in case you fall. Bow and arrows or a crossbow is probably the best, since knives are (probably) more expensive to make and harder to find again. Also, its easier to aim with bows and crossbows - especially if they have one of those target scope eyepiece things i cant remember the name of. Between them, a bow and arrow is probably the best - a crossbow require less effort to shoot, but more to set up and aim, while you just need to nock, point and shoot with a bow. Also, bows are lighter and can be compacted easier. If they use a bow though, note that they will need good upper body strength (bows are harder than they look to use) and a good eye. Also: if they're hunting from the air, how good is their eyesight? It might be good if they have some kind of glasses/binoculars to look though. Actually, goggles would be a good idea (bugs might get in their eyes otherwise! Plus, night fvision). Also, what about the tail - does it just flail around a lot when they fly or can they tuck it in? Not to mention hair getting everywhere - do they wear it back?

    Architecture im homes: Open spaces. Everywhere. They're gonna need to stretch they're wings. Plus, i mentioned the decorations. I imagine they'd have lots of high places, but likely only in teenagers/adults rooms for when they can fly. Childrens rooms may have a lot of places they can sit that they can reach on their own (maybe using a ladder or footholds) so they can feel high/grown up. I imagine the only things near the floor would be kids stuff, because bending over with wings is awkward. Also, maybe cupboards wouldnt need them to fly to be reached - i mean, we as a species aim to do the least amount of effort. Why go to the next room when you can put a shelf here? Why fly when you can not? Doorways would probably have to be wide and (depending on the height of the wings) tall. Maybe there's no doorways at all - just many open plan rooms. As for stairs versus ladders - stairs are probably the best because you can just walk up and down, where as theyd have to fit their wings through an opening with ladders. But either works, really.

    Playgrounds: Yeah, slides are a no-go, and i would say round-a-bouts too, because their wings might make them do a kite thing and take off. See-saws would be good, assuming the wings aren't long enough to get trod on. Also, climbing frames: ones that are like climbing walls with steps or hand holds or foot holes etc are good, but ones with ropes might get in the way or get tangled in the wings. Or they might be fine. Depends of the wings. But these would be good for children who want to experience flying! Swings should be good.

    Bathing: i would say both showers and baths have drawbacks. Primarily, in a shower, they might want to stretch their wings - might have to to clean properly - and wouldn't have room. Baths are cramped too. I would suggest maybe a large, circular bath - like a jacuzzi? - so they have enough spaces. Or they clean their wings separately, in which case i would still recommend a bath, because the wings might not be good if theyre wet. But then this raises the question of hair - it really depends on how they would clean.

    Sports: climbing competitions, tightrope things, those rope tyre things, balancing games (like who can balance ona beam the longest), games that involve two levels - eg football but only the people in the air can hold it, and the people in the ground can just either kick it to them or into the goal. Or a basket ball game where one person (the shooter) has to fly and the others have to try and pass it too them. These can all pretty much be adapted for kids or adults.

    Toilets: normal toilets should be fine!

    Cooking: this depends on how much control they have over their wings. If it's a lot (ie theyre like extra arms) open fires should be fine, because you're not likely to accidentally drop your arm in flames. I imagine theyd learn to cope. However, oven might be safer anyway.

    Other: if they have feathers or scales, they will probably moult. This might cause problems with cleaning. However, feathers and scales might have useful properties, or superstitious ones. Also, if they grow their wings as a child, it will probably hurt - like teething. So pain management might be necessary. They might enjoy ,being in high places - like platforms and stuff in random places. Also, wings would probably show off a lot of their emotions - it's like a second face they need to hide.

    Hope this was helpful!
     
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  11. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    I point to the Maximum Ride series as a reference.

    Afaik, the characters (all of whom have ten- to twelve-foot wingspans) eat, sit, sleep, and, uh...poop like normal human beings. Now, I can't fathom how they 'hide' their wings, which they apparently do--a lot--but they are human-shaped plus wings, kind of like X-Men's Angel. Well...exactly like X-Men's Angel. The only real adjustment they have to make is clothing, and it's been far too long since I read them to tell you how James Patterson approached it.
     

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