Friday, November 27, 2015

Another One About World Building

One of the issues with writing fantasy is the difficulty of being believable. I don't mean making your fantasy world believable. It can sometimes be even more difficult to convince the reader that the mundane aspects of your character's existence are true to life. It can be accurate, it can be completely true to life. But if the reader doesn't accept is as truth, facts become irrelevant.

A big part of the problem is that many people, mostly city dwellers, are either uninformed or have distorted ideas about what life is like under primitive conditions. And many people nowadays are sadly bewildered when it comes to low tech. Because relatively few people actually use low tech tools now.

Even people who do a fair amount of camping have only vague ideas of how much water has to be hauled in buckets for cooking and washing dishes, much less laundry and bare minimum standards of personal hygiene. It's a constant job. And the firewood cutting never stops either, winter or summer. Not even for a day. And almost no city dweller in the US has actually used a washboard.

I have in my possession a wooden shucking peg, made by my grandfather. It's about seventy years old. I have yet to show it to anyone under the age of fifty who knows what it is or what it's for. Obviously, if for some reason I wanted to write a story where one of the characters was shucking corn by hand, I would have to gloss over the details or risk befuddling most readers. And people in general seem, to me, to be getting less familiar with the old ways with each generation. I also have a hay fork, only the Creator knows why. I actually enjoy showing that one to people. The expressions are hilarious.

You can't describe many of the day to day activities of people in a low tech society in any detail without getting into a long, involved description that would throw off the flow of the story. Usually that's fine. Unless you want to include a plot detail that depends on that particular activity. That's where it gets challenging. Oh well.