On Research

Things are quiet today. Didn’t sleep well last night due to a variety of reasons. The Squire not being one of them thank goodness. He’s at his mom’s for the weekend. I had planned on doing writing and have done my weekly vignette at According to Hoyt finally. Past few weeks have been hectic so I have skipped them. So with lack of sleep and feeling a little listless I decided to do some research for my current work in progress. No, not that little snippet I posted a few weeks ago, for the current novel I am working on.

You see, I have taken a premise and gone running with it. Leave it aside for the moment. Near future present day, no big tech type stuff going on. I had thought I was finished it last year and started book two. Realized that it was the wrong book, labeled it number three and THEN started book two. Things were going great got about 30,000 words into it when I realized that I had some HUGE plot holes in book one. So, saved, closed and pulled up book one to go back over it.

I ripped out about seven thousand words that didn’t feel right. No worries, saved them for something else later. After I rework that short story or novella, depending on how much working needs to be done with it I may release it as a tease or something else. I re-examined my assumptions and started writing more words to fill in the holes.

This is about research again right? Yeah, that’s right finding the information you need in order not to trip up your readers. In this case I had to go read a few government documents. The Emergency Measures Act (Canadian law on what the federal government can and can not do from public welfare to actual declaration of war). Long boring reading for most part, a little back tracking and checking other acts referenced in the EMA. So why do I need it? Well, there used to be a government document called the “War Measures” Act, last used in the 1970’s during the FLQ crisis in Quebec. It was finally updated and brought into alignment with the Canadian Charter of Rights. Big deal actually. Stipulates what the government can and can’t do for how long. Reason why I had to look this up was because I am a bit of a fossil and only remembered it from history as the “War Measures Act”. Of course the new Act can into effect after I had almost graduated high school.

Heavy reading and important reading. How much will I use in my current work? That depends on numerous factors. Not much honestly, and only in passing here and there probably. The big important deal is knowing how the government is going to act and react, when it will, how it will escalate, and so on. Reasoning is that it has a lot of powers in what it can do to keep things moving. How effective would it be in practice? Well it depends on numerous factors.

So, research done and I have to rip more words out and get more writing done. After that maybe I will look up something easier like how to build a solar oven and bake beans off the grid.

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Serendipity

It’s amazing what information one will find that one doesn’t realize they need until they stumble across it. One of my many works in progress is a post apocalyptic scenario. Nothing out of the ordinary in most aspects, just a little thought experiment I am working on through fiction. Mainly, how to maintain and survive a truly doomsday situation given a little advanced warning. I know it’s been done before by many other writers, doesn’t mean I can’t dip my toes into the genre.

So, I have been researching. Searching for so much information. Specifically what’s available in print and easily found. Making guns and gunpowder is something most people research for such situations I think. Formula is pretty simple and the method to make it just as simple. Trouble is that most modern rifles use a different powder that requires different techniques and chemicals. Then there’s the concept of primers and reloading. Too technical, and probably beyond the means of most groups of people that for all intents and purposes have been thrown back to pre-industrial civilization.

So to the point. I was doing some research on crossbows and bow making. I was inspired a bit by a couple bits and pieces that used to live in the family home basement that my late uncle had started working on and never finished. It was a crossbow using a vehicle leaf spring as the bow. Believe it or not there were plans published in the 1950’s in Popular Mechanics on how to make crossbow with a leaf spring. Only thing missing really was how to make the string. So I started researching and looking.

I found a series of books that were printed called the “Traditional Bowyer’s Bible”. Four volumes and dead tree editions were horribly expensive on Amazon if you weren’t careful. I have since found another source and will be adding them to my “Honey can I?” shopping list. For the moment though they are available on Amazon for the Kindle. So this Christmas I received a gift card (thanks mom) and decided to get the book I needed to read badly (volume 2 for string making chapter 8).

I was just expecting a simple chapter on how to twist strands of string into a bowstring. Nope, nothing simple about it. It goes on for the first third of the chapter on how to make cordage BY HAND. That’s right how to twist fibers to make a simple cord and what goes into it and why it works. Dense? Incredibly dense and for me intriguing. Now here’s where the title of the post comes in. Post apocalypse, no industry, everything is going to be needing to be done by hand. What does the chapter talk about after cordage? HOW TO SPIN! How to make a simple drop spindle (with pictures) and how to spin vegetable fibers (cotton, flax, milkweed) into thread. Then it talks about how to make several types of spinning wheels. I mean this is important stuff.

With thread you can weave, with weaving you make cloth, with cloth, well you get the picture. So by researching how to make a bowstring I have stumbled upon a how to for the start of fabric. Something I am going to have to go back and rewrite the implications of to some of the characters. As well, I believe it solves a couple of minor plotting issues I was having or not. Depends on how nasty I want to be to the characters.

So that’s part of what I have been doing lately. Now back to my reading and I think I have to do some more researching.