Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Learning Curl

Did you know that Canada won the first ever World Curling Championship?  According to wikipedia this competition was held in Falkirk and Edinburgh in 1959.  In curling there's a team member called the 'Skip'.  Essentially the skip is the leader of the team.  They're the ones that plan out the strategies and tell the team how they need to play that round.  They wear two different shoes while they play.  One that has a grip, that they generally use to push off from the 'hack' when delivering a stone.  The other has no grip, which they use to slide on the ice during the delivery, or to slide down the ice while sweeping.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I thought I would share all the knowledge I'm acquiring for my current novel.

You see, I happened to see a curling game last Saturday.  Not in person, or anything, it was just on tv.  The thing is, though, I've never been remotely interesting in curling.  I've heard it mentioned before, and I had the vaguest idea what they did during the game, but it wasn't something I cared about.  Or ever even had an interest in watching.  So why was I so very captivated by this game?

I let it slide, though, thinking that it was just a one time thing.  I cared only because it was on, and once it was out of sight it was out of mind.  Which was generally true.

Except that I kept seeing games everywhere I went.  This probably had a lot to do with the tournament of hearts being in full swing, but every time I saw it, I wanted to stop and watch.  It hit me when I was sitting in Denny's trying to pay to the conversation, and was instead being distracted by the curling game that was being shown on the tv: it was my character that was making me care about it.

My character (a female werewolf assassin, in case you were wondering) is, apparently, a curler.  She's one of those people I was watching going out on the ice and throwing stones.  Not professionally, of course.  But she definitely does this on her off time.

For me, that meant one thing: research.  I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan or research.  In fact, if I could avoid it altogether, I will, and I have in the past.  I write fantasy novels for the simple reason that the entire world comes from my head.  In other words, no research needed!

Now I'm stuck finding out more about a sport that I never cared about before (though after this is done, I might care just a little bit more) all so I can accurately depict a hobby that my character enjoys.

In the meantime, though, I thought that you all might enjoy it if I shared what I had learned so far about the not so well known sport.  Like the fact that the team with the last throw has what's called the 'hammer'.  It's an advantage in the game, making it easier for that team to score points.  If the other team manages to get points instead, that's called a steal.

Oh, the things we do for our characters.  I suppose I should consider myself lucky for not having researched anything that will have some unknown section of the government thinking I'm a terrorist or the like...yet...

What have you learned about for the sake of your characters?


  1. I don't write without doing research. Cultures that I'm basing my cultures on, technology of the time, psychology, sociology, philosophy, anything that will help me figure out my world.

    The most interesting research I did recently was when I needed to find out about latitude and longitude for my novel. I won't say I'm a master in any of these subjects but like the bards of old, I find that I prefer being skilled in everything instead.

    1. Yeah, I don't need to know everything about it, but I find that when I'm writing a fantasy I don't feel the need to delve back into our own history so much. Though I did do some research on weapons...that didn't even really make it into my novel. I really should think about putting that into Dangerous Waters more... always it's my downfall.

    2. I just found it interesting how different our writing styles are. Even when writing a fantasy I like knowing how things work in the real world and then extrapolating from that.

      On the other hand I know I do a heck of a lot more research than ever gets put my book. I just I can't write if I do it your way. The characters and situations just don't seem real to me then.

      I'm just glad your way works for you! I love finding out how other writers go through their process.

  2. I had to research the Greek Gods for my last story, funny thing is besides the Disney version of the movie Hercules I had no idea about them. However, the best thing I was allowed to warp it to however I wanted so it worked out.

    There was the character who collected stamps who threw me for a loop. I had no idea it would be such a big deal, but it became huge.

    Usually, it's smaller questions I find myself asking because of them, not bigger topics: Is there an actual term for the way you sit in a gynological chair? What are the main ingredients in a cob salad? When someone likes you do the pupils dilate or expand? What does the colour red actually stand for? (Yes questions I have googled in the past while)

    1. Ahhh, the Greek Gods. Yes, I had to research them for my first ever nano. Hercules gets it very very wrong (as I'm sure you noticed) but I already knew that, as I was rather obsessed with them when I was younger.

      A stamp collection, huh? That would be oh so much fun to research...

      And, yes, I totally get some of those smaller questions that have to be googled. As you know, I've (as well as you) have googled how many deaths by suicide per year on average in the last little while. That alone makes me worry about myself just a little bit...

    2. I love researching myths and lore from around the world, particularly on supernatural creatures and deities!

      I agree with Danni, I can't imagine actually researching stamp collecting...