Here are a couple things I’ve learned about while doing worldbuilding research for Stars Fall Out:
The Roman month of Mercedonious. Learning more about the history of intercalation (inserting extra days into the calendar, such as in a leap year), provided the inspiration for me to fix a story problem. I have a section of Stars that, timing-wise, felt weird in relation to the rest of the story. I decided to run with the weirdness; I made them intercalated days called for on the authority of one of the Grand Oneiromancers. One of those “can you believe this law is still on the books?” kind of things.
I also learned how to convert between different number base systems. I’ve always thought it would be cool if we had a base 12 system rather than base 10, so I gave one of the cultures in my story a base 12 system, and another base 9. Now I’m trying to make it as hard as possible for them to change currency, which is adding some nice color to a scene in the bakery when a guy comes in with imperial money.
I came up with a quick method for enchilada sauce that I am happy with.
Normally, I’m not a fan of recipes that use salsa. They’re too back-of-the-box recipe, shortcuts in the negative sense of the word, like when you think you’re going to save yourself a bunch of driving time, but then you end up on a shifty, haunted dirt road that just gets narrower and narrower until it’s basically a trail you have to back out of, and you curse your entire existence.
Anyway, after my recent discovery that canned enchilada sauce is even more underwhelming than I remembered, I decided there has to be a better way.
Salsa verde has the flavor profile I want in a green enchilada sauce, only without chopping tomatillos for a million years. It worked out to about 3/4 cup salsa verde with 2 cups or so of chicken broth, thickened with a bit of cornstarch. So far, it’s worked with at least one red salsa too.
This is the result of my hands-on plot-fixing session the other day. It led to me writing a scene I came up with twelve years ago, but hadn’t figured out how to write (in part because of Stars Fall Out’s long, weird history). I plotted and wrote it in an hour-and-a-half, and it’s improved two main characters, my worldbuilding for the city of Nirsuathu, and even the ending.
I slammed my laptop shut, wished Dunkin Donuts were more conducive to victory laps, then drove to work while blasting “Outsiders” by Franz Ferdinand, which is part of my Stars playlist, and is quite a bombastic song for representing a character who’s been stuck in Nirsuathu for months.