1. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    Examples from Your Writing that Came from Researching

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Stormburn, Apr 19, 2017.

    Researching is a great source of fun and inspiration to me. While a lot research is about 'crossing your T's and dotting your i's, I have found it well spring of inspiration too.
    In a short story I am currently writing, the MC has an old pickup with an eight-track player in it. The research on eight-track players inspired the line below:

    “Chu-click” The eight-track player changes program. Bob Seger begins singing again, but, it is dark now. The twilight border is gone and anything playing is noise coming from a graphite tape squeezed between rollers.

    The line needs tweaking, but, I'm very pleased with the direction it is moving in and I would not have written it without research.
    Godspeed!
     
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  2. Dnaiel

    Dnaiel Contributing Member

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    That's a really good line.
     
  3. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Active Member

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    I did a lot of research on mills, specifically medieval flour mills powered by a waterwheel. So my miller actually sounds like he knows what he's talking about when giving directions, lol.

    Edrick pointed to a pile of flour sacks, raising his voice to be heard over the clacking of the mill stones and machinery upstairs.

    “That pile needs to go on the cart. Maathias is supposed to be here soon to do the deliveries. If you need me, I’ll be up on the sack floor, monitoring the slipper. After you’re done with the cart, take the net and make sure the mill race is clear. What with that storm last night, I’m sure there is all kind of debris in the water today, and we don’t want it catching in the waterwheel.”

    Not as pretty as yours, @Stormburn, but my miller is very plain and by the book.

    Also had to do a bit on medieval harvesting, prompting this bit that my MC observes while travelling:

    Sickles rose and fell, flashing in the morning sun, as the teams of reapers worked their way across the fields. Binders moved slowly behind them, scooping up the cut grain and tying it into sheaves.
     
  4. Domino355

    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    From learning about trauma, and how it is usually depicted in fiction, one of the more unrealistic attributes was how people seem to get strong enough head trauma to get knocked out, and then just walk it off with no reprecussions whatsoever (mild cuncussions don't usually cause more than a momentary unconciousness, and anything stronger will cause internal bleeding and/or brain damage).

    As a result, in my novel, a part of it has a child possessed by a demon attack my MC. He manages to knock him out, and then exorcises the demon. However, the brain trauma was enough that the child never fully recovers and remains in a semi-vegetive state.
     
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  5. SethLoki

    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I love these kind of touches; the small details that are akin to close-ups. Mechanical/biological...they just make for a more intimate read.

    There are good few folks on here @Domino355 that know their medical onions. I've seen (a good few too) questions put to the forum that have been answered in an above + beyond the call of duty manner. Always worth a punt if you're straying into such territory with your writing again.

    Staying with the topic; I studied how the body repairs itself recently, so I could write a little cinematic about a knight type guy who was convalescing after a particularly brutal battle.
    I enjoyed the discovering, as much as I enjoyed writing about it. Guess it's a form of enrichment.

    Vivid and informative.

    I want to tweak (suggest) one thing, but it's not the workshop, and it's not mine, so I never typed this out loud.

     
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  6. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    I firmly believe that such details, though they will not write your story for you, will give you something to write about and something interesting for the reader. For example, if it is in the norm for current fantasy authors to trivialize injuries, why not make that part of your character's struggle? Suddenly, your reader is given something fresh to read and your character challenges that define them. I actually have several medical websites book mark along with a love for the shows like 'Fight Science'. And yes, I love 'Deadliest Warrior' also.
    Godspeed!
     
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  7. rktho

    rktho Active Member

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    A dragon's joint below the knee is a tarsus. A syringe can be made from a bladder and a quill. Snakes don't have ears unless I create my own species that does.
     
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  8. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) I'd imagined pretty much from the beginning that the vampire character of my Urban Fantasy series was born in 1900, felt lonely her whole life being the only girl in New Orleans who didn't like Jazz, and died in 1920, deciding to become as legendary a murderer as the Axeman of New Orleans.

    Looking up early 20th century Jazz brought me to "I'm A Jazz Vampire," and I decided that my character was killed in 1923 instead; that way, her first experience after waking up as a vampire would be that the necromancer who killed her was playing Marion Harris's record over and over and over ...

    2) When I first started imagining what types of magic my villain protagonists would study under the tutelage of said vampire, I initially imagined that their powers would revolve around pop music :bigmeh:

    After finding out that crediting the writers of the lyrics was not enough to make it Fair Use, I started coming up with a system of Elemental magic that I have since decided is a **** of a lot better.

    But almost as importantly, I also scoured the Internet for public domain music that I could use here and there (even though it wouldn't dominate the way I'd originally imagined).

    Like "I'm a Jazz Vampire," for example.

    3) I'd planned from the beginning on having my first book take place around Richmond, and one of the few songs with English lyrics that I was able to listen to while writing was Justin Townes Earle's "Lone Pine Hill" because the song references General Phillip Sheridan and one of my characters is named Sheridan. I listened to this song dozens of times before realizing that I was writing about a bomber terrorizing Richmond while listening to a song that mentions the siege of Richmond.

    Having a character named Sheridan playing such an important role in a story about attacks on Richmond was the most contrived coincidence I've ever accidentally come up with in my life, and the most important rule of anything contrived in a story is to make it contrived by the character(s) in story; I decided that the Civil War connection was going to be an in-story character decision, and I decided to look for Civil War-era songs about Richmond so that I could emphasize the character's interest in the connection (without getting into copyright trouble with Justin Townes Earle).

    I immediately fell in love with Bobby Horton's rendition of the Confederate marching cadence "Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel" because I'm a moderate history nerd and because all of the song's information about early Civil War battles felt like a School House Rock special written by Michael Bay :p

    I played around with the idea that another one of my characters would be a military history nerd whose favorite song was "Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel" for the same reason why I love it. She feels so much more real to me as a military history nerd then she did when I wanted her to be a gearhead, and I have so many scenes in my head about how she and her brother played Sid Meier's Civilization games as children, how she and the vampire get into arguments about whether Civ III or Civ IV is better, and I even managed to cement my understanding of her and her friends' magic powers by imagining her giving the three of them Civ III-style stat-blocks.

    Here's a bit of dialogue that I came up with for before the book takes place: drug cook Charlie found out that one of her dealers got robbed, so she sends Amy and Alec to find the person. On their way back to Charlie's "office," Alec calls her on speaker from the passenger seat (Amy has a driver's license and he doesn't) to tell her that they found the guy.

    When he tells Charlie where the guy is, she tells him and Amy to get back ASAP so that they can come up with a plan to break in to the person's home for the drugs and money that were stolen from them first.

    Amy: Hey, Charlie, does the name "George Patton" mean anything to you?

    Charlie: [sigh] I feel like it's about to.

    Amy: Big-shot general from World War II. Not-President-Yet Eisenhower told him to bypass the city of Trier because it would take 4 divisions to capture it.

    Charlie: OK?

    Amy: [trying not to laugh] Patton replied that he had already taken Trier with 2 divisions and did Eisenhower want him to give it back.

    Charlie: ... What.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
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  9. Domino355

    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    Also, the more I learn science the more inclined I become to eventually write a hard sci fi piece one day.

    I mean, new developements in bioengeneering, new discoveries in chemistry and physics, theories that sound absolutely crazy and yet are probably true such as string theory and quantom physics. The more you learn about these things the more you realise how much the world today and future predictments about the advancement of technology are pure sci fi material.
     
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  10. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    Newton's theory of Ether is a foreshadowing of today's theory of dark matter.
     
  11. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Newton needed Aether to explain how light, which was known to have wave-properties could propagate in space before the concept of EM fields. Dark matter is unrelated. Einstein's gravitational constant would be a better example. He included it because he realized that without it, his universe would collapse on itself (It was not known yet that the universe was expanding.) In modern times, the constant has come back in the form of Dark Energy.


    @OP I love your line, I agree that the sound of the clicking make a much more immersive experience.
     
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  12. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    Ether was seen, in Newton's theory, as the invisible medium that objects in space moved through. That theory was replaced new theories about gravity early 20th century. Thanks!
     
  13. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, Aether was thought to be in all of space but had nothing to do with gravity, it was meant purely to explain how light, which was known to be a wave managed to get from the sun to us. Nobody understood yet that you can have a wave in empty space. Newtonian gravity simply was about the two masses involved and the distance between them. It was assumed that the physical mechanism was hidden in his constant, whoch he knew had really strange units. I'd be happy to explain more details of that (or general relativity, which is what you alluded to) in another thread or PM if you wish.
     
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  14. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    You may be confused by the fact that in 1905 Einsteins new theory finally put the aether necessity to bed, but it wasn't gravity, that wouldn't come until many years later. With special relativity it was possible for maxwells equations to work without requiring a physical medium for the prolongation to go through.
     
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  15. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributing Member Contributor

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    After watching several YouTube instructional videos on how to clean a gun:

    Descending the stairs, the smell of coffee hit his nose about halfway down. He went into the kitchen to see Kelan sitting at the table, a mug of black coffee at his side. Kelan's gun was disassembled in front of him with the lower assembly, recoil spring, slide and barrel spread out on the table top. Rob watched as Kelan picked up the slide with one pale, elegant hand and brushed it gently with a dry toothbrush held in the other.

    "Good morning, sunshine," Kelan said, not looking up from his work.

    "I see you found the coffee." Robe got a mug out and poured himself a cup, sipping it with a small murmur of approval. Apparently he and Kelan liked their coffee the same way, brewed strong until just short of bitter.

    "Yes, I've been up for a couple of hours." Kelan continued to brush off the Glock pieces in front of him, then traded out for a dishtowel. "I know you wanted first crack at setting up the network, so I took care of some odds and ends. I also found an unopened box of cereal, so there's that to eat if you want some. No milk, though."

    "I'll make sure to pick some up when I go to the store.” It sounded so weirdly domestic that Rob almost laughed.

    "I made a list." Kelan nodded at a neatly written piece of paper on the counter. He began to reassemble the pieces of his weapon.

    Rob glanced at the list, then did a double-take. There were the expected staples like bread, milk, juice, etc. But there were also a variety of unexpected items. One whole cut up chicken, garlic, pearl onions, dry red wine, five potatoes, Gruyere cheese, butter... "What the hell is all this shit?"

    Calmly, Kelan finished putting his gun back together. He racked the slide firmly, pointed the gun way from Rob towards the floor, and dry fired, smiling briefly in satisfaction at the resulting click.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  16. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Shh. The safeword is Swiss Fish Salad. :D Contributor

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    I only research out of necessity and continuity purposes. Every thing else is
    is based upon what I know, or that of those who have the exp. to add to the
    realism of the fiction.

    If you don't know, ask somebody smarter than you.
     
  17. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    Not the sound I recall. And tape has no graphite. It is a form of plastic with a coating of ground up magnetic material .
     
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  18. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    I remember (I think) when you started the gun question, and what you've got looks good to me, but Sherry asked me to ask you what was for dinner....
     
  19. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    Thanks, I confused oxide for graphite. Thank god for rewrites. I'm not happy with the sound description and I am trying to get closer. Thanks again!
     
  20. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    Soo much research in my first proper short story. It came from a prompt: "Send your character to Niagara Falls".

    That was it. So I decided to have my character BASE jump off the falls and started researching. Found out that was impossible. BASE jump near the Falls? Kinda pointless, and not easy either. Wingsuit over the Falls?

    I did a ton more research, watching videos on Youtube, made a (very simple) 3D map of the Falls using screenshots from Google Earth and Sketchup, along with my jumper's flight path to make sure it was possible, then I joined a skydiving forum. Presented myself honestly as an author doing research for a story (although I used a more traditional handle, not my Iain identity) and found, not only a lot of advice, but a very helpful writer and magazine editor who offered to alpha read my work for technical accuracy and threw in a bit of beta as well.

    I'm pretty satisfied with the story, but it's supposed to be a bit of a romance, with a female MC, and every woman I've shown it to says that a) I did a passable job of writing the MC, and b) it reads like a horror story.

    Oh well.

    Here's my 3D modeled drop zone:

    DZ1.jpg
     
  21. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    Very cool. You said it was suppose to be a romance but read like a horror story? I suppose you created the dread of falling well enough to inspire that sense of fear in the reader? That is really well done to connect like that.
     
  22. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had to do a ton of research on Jainism for one of my side characters - so I get stuff like this (sorry to post a the whole scene but I couldn't pick out a line)
    ==

    Nina saw Vinya stumble into the bathroom and splash water on her face, she looked like she was trying to rouse herself awake after being knocked out of her apparent trance.

    Nina tried to be apologetic. “Sorry I interrupted your…rice…thing.”

    “Gahuli,” Vinya said, blinking her eyes repeatedly.

    “What?” Nina asked.

    “It’s called gahuli. We use it to prepare for prayer”

    Vinya shook her head violently, which finally seemed to snap her into focus. “Don't worry, it not a big deal – like nobody under 70 at my derasar even bothers with it. I just do it because I suck at actually praying. Fuck, I should have gotten more bad karma my last life.”

    Nina tried another peace offering. “So you're Hindu then?”

    “No, I’m Jain,” Vinya snapped, drying her face with a towel. “My last name is Jain. You know, two plus two equals four.”

    “Sorry,” Nina responded meekly, applying paste to her toothbrush, “I think the last time I heard anything about Jainism was freshman year of college.”

    Vinya rolled her eyes and started applying neon green lipstick. “Don't worry about it, it just gets annoying. And most of us aren't actually named Jain, I just got stuck with that one too.”

    She finished with the lipstick and grabbed a glittery silver eyeliner pen. “Hey everybody, this is Vinya, your screwed-up, materialist poster child for Jainism! She's a sucky Jain, but at least she doesn't eat carrots.”

    “Carrots?” Nina asked through a mouthful of toothpaste.

    “Never mind,” Vinya said, going to work on her eyes, “another Jain thing.”

    Nina wondered why Vinya was suddenly so defensive, then caught herself staring at the ten colors of mascara lined up in front of the mirror. It was time to look for a way out of the conversation.

    “I have to shower. Sorry again about your - uh - gahila…I mean…sorry.”

    “Let’s stick with ‘rice thing,’”
     
  23. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    No, it's not the feelings, it's the...pacing? I kill a character, but don't show how until the end. It's tough for me, because (with all due respect to my critiquers), the way the story is laid out just feels right to me. I really do respect their opinions, but it's kind of like if someone told you that serving a sandwich at lunchtime was kind of weird, because it was basically a breakfast food.

    But they're my target audience, or close to it....
     
  24. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here is something I wrote a while ago for a WIP that has several chapters in an fishing village.



    One could barely hear the groans and creaks of the boat herself over the roar of the wind. The captain yelled at the top of his lungs over the gusts, as the crew kept the bow pointed into the surf. The gentle bobbing had become a nauseating tetter-totter of long rises and sudden, stomach churning plummets. The mighty wooden trawler, now the storm's bath toy.

    The crew wrestled with the rutter as the winds and currents constantly shifted. As a rogue waves struck the port side, the boat listed violently. Men lost their footing and dropped their lines, some nearly swept overboard, but all grabbing netting or the bulwark at the last second. The boat began to turn dangerously; broadside into the waves.

    "Release the grease traps!" The captain yelled to the crew, who relayed the message into the kitchen. Oil spilled out of the bow and churned aft, spreading out in a long slick.

    The men regained their position as the ship sped down the face of another monster swell, broasting to starboard as another gust pushed her.




    Before I did my research, I had no idea that during storms, ships would dump oil into the water. It spreads out into a film on the surface and acts as a lubricating layer between the sea and the wind that drives the huge waves.
     
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  25. OurJud

    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    When one of my characters moved to Cornwall. Used online maps and route planners to get the area around the train station accurate.
     
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