Saturday, September 23, 2006

Horsing around

Fiction writers need to read more than fiction. They need to read nonfiction, history books, newspapers, magazines, whatever. Why? For one, it will help them come up with story ideas. For another thing, it can help to inform them about things they are writing in their stories.

For example, I write fantasy. The main mode of transportation in most of my stories is by horse. Now, despite growing up in Kentucky, I know next to nothing about horse riding and I haven't ridden one since I was in camp in second grade. I know a good bit about horse racing and horse auctions, because I spent plenty of time in my teens at such events and I knew people who worked in the industry, but I don't know the ins and outs of actually riding a horse.

So, when my hero jumps on his faithful steed and charges off after the bad guys, my experience with such is limited. However, now I'm reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Horseback Riding." I've learned a lot, and it will help me in the future with description in my stories.

Also, I love the "Idiot's" books. They provide a lot of basic information in a manner that's not boring and makes a quick read.


zornhau said...

LOL. I have several DK books for just the same reason.

I suspect my choice of Degree subject may also have been influenced by the desire to know what I write about.

Then... well, I joined this Western Martial Arts group about 7 years ago... I was going to do it for a year, so I could write accurate fight scenes. Thing is, one reason I aspired to Sword and Sorcery was because deep down, I rather fancied being a swordsman. So cut to the present day: I have a full harness of (dented) 15th-century style armour, and enough swords to liberate Narnia from the Leonine Theocracy!

Ty said...

Yep, firsthand experience is great for writing.
In college I spent some time with archery and fencing groups, just so I would sound halfway intelligent when writing period or fantasy combat. Unfortunately, that was long ago and I've forgotten a lot of what I learned.

I don't have any armor, but I've a good number of swords, a battle axe and a war hammer, along with a couple of decent bows. I'd really like to get a good, traditional longbow, but those things are expensive! Real swords and/or combat-ready swords, not stage or garbage, tend to be pretty pricey too.