Things I Don’t Know About Fantasy

Writing a fantasy novel is always fun, until you realize about halfway through that you have no idea what you’re talking about. When I started Silver Tears last November, I never knew how much I didn’t know about fantasy settings.

These are only a few of many things I don’t know.

1. Oh, deer.

Yes. Oh, deer. That spelling is intentional. At one point during my novel, my characters shot a deer. Then they proceeded to gut it.

The only problem? I have no clue how to gut a deer.

Enter Google. I’m pretty sure Google should be on my list of best friends. Into the search engine I typed the words, “how to gut a deer.”

(I’ll spare you the pain and not mention Bambi right now.)

I found an easy-to-follow guide and the information stuck with me. So it is that I know the basic idea of how to gut a deer. This is one of my proudest accomplishments.

...I am completely serious.

2. Horses

One of my weaknesses is that I don’t know much about horses. I think they’re beautiful animals and I love them. But I know virtually nothing about how they walk, eat, and live.

This is rather inconvenient when one is writing a fantasy novel where horses are the main source of transportation. Not only that, but my novel also contained a long journey where... yep, you guessed it, my characters rode horses.

Thank you to Georgie for helping me with many of the issues that stem out of my lack of horse-knowledge. Like when I didn’t know how much dead deer meat a horse could carry. Or when I had to figure out the specifics of getting trampled by a horse. Stuff like that.

3. Swords

I love swords. I love duels. I love battles and climactic fight scenes. Those are what make my favorite movies so awesome. Add in an awesome soundtrack or two, and you bet that’s a movie I’m probably gonna love.

But much like horses, when it comes to writing, ’tis much different.

You see, I don’t know much about swords either, other than my crash course in Lord of the Rings last year. I have stood outside a cutlery shop, where I proceeded to stare at the shiny swords on the wall for a good ten minutes. I also indulged in a fair bit of daydreaming about my characters and their weaponry. And of course I was wishing I could own one of those gleaming blades. For research purposes, obviously.

But when it comes to the technicalities of sword fighting, the different maneuvers and the way it all works,  I’m clueless. This became especially clear to me yesterday when I realized I didn’t know how one sharpens a blade.

And yet despite the lack of information, I love to write about swords as much as ever.

I end up drawing on my experience in Nerf sword battles a lot.

Here's a cool picture of Aragorn.
And his sword.
You're welcome.


4. Blacksmithing

In Silver Tears, my character Gavin Gray is a blacksmith. He’s a good one, too. It’s irrevocably woven throughout the plot and plays a pretty big role. It's pretty hard to miss—he is a blacksmith.

I really need to go look up the nuts and bolts of blacksmithing because... yep, you guessed it, I’m pretty clueless. I mean, yes, I know some things, but I basically make it up as I go along. First draft and all that.

Anyone know where I can find Blacksmithing for Dummies?

(I confess that I just looked up “blacksmith” on Wikipedia because I’m awesome. I feel so much richer in knowledge already.)

What’s one thing you don’t know?

Psst. If you're reading this in an email or a blog reader, 
Further Up and Further In has a change of scenery, a new design. Check it.

16 comments:

  1. I had to look up horse types, and information on carriage travel.

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  2. I'm trying to design a dying planet. They don't have many plants... I have to find a way to rid the atmosphere of excess carbon dioxide. They have oxygen, but carbon dioxide? If I try to google that one, it'll probably say something horribly helpful like, "Grow a tree." And another problem. What do you eat when you have no plants or animals? :) Oh, what a complex book I'm writing. Extra Terrestrial Dystopian. Ouch. ;)

    Your book sounds really cool. I have no idea about all things swordy, I actually prefer it when the authors don't get all technical in fencing terms. All the same, it's good to know what you're talking about. Wish I did. -_- :)

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  3. Cute new design!

    (oh, and I...have...a...sword. She's named Gaillard. And it cost $27.

    She's a bonny brae brand. ☺)

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  4. For me, it's usually the little things, where a second or two on some sites and I've got what I needed.

    But right now, I'm doing major research on Egyptian gods and myths. I knew a fair bit about it already, but the contradictions I've found so far ... It's like when I discovered there were varying times before someone dies to a sword in the gut. My muse just smiles.

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  5. Yep, totally relate to this!! My biggest problem area in my fantasy writing: horses. I know nothing about them! But they're so awesome! You'd think that creating your own world would be easy, right?!? Funny how we have to fall back on the facts. :]

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  6. All of these - I completely understand. Then again, I do horses quite well, but the rest? Neh, just leave the descriptive business up to the reader. The character knows what they're doing . . . I don't, bahaha!

    Also, am I the only fantasy writer who secretly covets a sword of her own? Though I would never use it, because I'm proven hopeless with all forms of weaponary. I'd just like to have one.

    Thanks for the gratuitous Aragorn. Can't beat a bit of Elendil's heir to brighten up a day ;)

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  8. Yep, the thrills of writing somewhere else.... This is not just true for fantasy!!! I am writing a historical fiction. And I still am found ten times a day scrounging for the pieces of my world's puzzle.
    And I have to stay historically acurate.... :P
    No more said, it is hard. But fun.
    *_*

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  9. Hey there, I'm new to your blog :)

    I have to look out a lot about swords and horses. I know absolutely nothing about them...

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  10. Love the design. So simple and clean. :)

    Guess what - I'm taking my first plunge into fantasy as well. And yeah, just to make you feel better, I know absolutely nothing abot sword fights, horses, deer-gutting, or blacksmithing. Lucky for me, none of my characters are blacksmiths. They just work at taverns. And I have no idea what food to make them cook. :P

    ~bree

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    1. My taverns have always been simple affairs. Food is either something roasting on a spit or some sort of stew. ^_^

      Come to think of it. Stew shows up in most of my stories, even when it's not a tavern ... hmm.

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  11. AAAHHHH! I know NOTHING...I admit it. I need to learn about horses and swords and everything for my novel. I'm just making it up as I go, too...but sooner or later I'm going to need all that info. If you have any, I'd love to have it passed along to me! I'm at alyiannabaggins@gmail.com ;)

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  12. 1: I'm lucky, as there is a place near us that gives Old Blacksmithing classes once in awhile.

    2: Thats why, M'Dear, you DON'T use swords!!! *brain bomb* XD Think of Mirriam and Eristor's Kabob sticks. XD

    3: Well...*cough*...as my last name might dictate, I do in fact know roughly how to gut a deer. ^.^ I've watched it done twice, and so I might not know HOW to do it, I know how to write it being done....if that makes anysense...

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  13. LAte to the post - but yes - all of the same things.. Well except Blacksmithing. Watching someone do it at a Renn Fair ot Histroical village, might be useful. (I just got back from campingat Strubridge Vilalge, Mass).

    I think all good fantasy writers covet a sword of their own... SOmewhere I have one (I really ought to find it) Only it's not sharp, definately rusty and for ceremonial purposes only (I used it for Scottish HIghland Dancing). It was my great-great grandfather's.

    One of the fun things I've done in the name of research - is go on reenactments with my mother. She does the American Revolution time period so all cookign is done in a fireplace or over the open fire. I've yet to actually prepare anything over the open fire ( In eed to do a crash course at her house bfreo I try to feed 20 + people on these period campouts). I did make some flat bread and some yeast bread this last weekend, which someone else cooked. The flat bread came out yummy! Did you know that yellow corn is a thing of the 'future' back in the 1700's it was the colored corn that the NAtive American's eat up in the North west. Maize is the yellow stuff and only from the Mexico area... how intriguing!

    And google is a writer's best frined - between it and Wikipedia, we can learn about ANYTHING! *grins*

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  14. Hey Sky! I tagged you in a post - it's call the Game of Elevens, come participate :D

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  15. I sympathize with your plight. Well, at least as far as the swords go. As far as the other three things, I've skinned more than one deer, and seen a goat gutted which is done the same way. I've also heard numerous times from the men/boys in my life how they gut a deer.) :) I have eaten, slept and breathed horses for close to two decades and owned my own for several years so I know all that stuff. And, my dad is a farrier (someone who shoes horses, although he cold shoes instead of hot shoeing.) I have also seen various blacksmith demonstrations. But, as far as the swords go, I have to rely on the internet and watching movies/reading books.

    Oh, and I definitely want my own sword someday. As well as to be able to use it properly and with a degree of skill. What could be more terrific than that?

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