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.
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.
The internet contains about a billion articles on the morning routines of CEOs, boring stuff that starts with waking at 4:30 to work out. But what about the morning routines of spies? What do those look like? Wake up at 4:30 to go to the gym, then LIE ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU ARE FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.
I searched for the morning routines of spies partly on a whim, and partly because such information would be directly useful in my research for Stars Fall Out. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t find much.
Instead, I ending up reading about the field of spy psychology. I’m a few articles into this research, and so far am incredibly disappointed that no one has used the term “spychology.”
I’m not interested in the texture of a rock, but in its shadow.
This resonated with my mostly because of my main character in Stars Fall Out, a failed printmaker whose tendency to see the light and shadow in everything ends up revealing something important about a newly-engineered magic.