a massively extended version of ruthlesscalculus’ post
roaringdefiance asked: Hi! I'm trying to write a story in which people from the middle ages/medieval era somehow end up timetravelling to now, the 21st century. What are some things I should keep in mind? Like, how would they react/adjust and stuff?
- Secularism. Religion was a big part of the Middle Ages and an era where a minority regularly attend church (and not even the Catholic Church) would shock most medieval people.
- Science. Science used to be a branch of theology. Now science and religion stand on opposite ends of the spectrum. It will be strange to see everything that used to be “divine” explained in mathematical ways.
- Technology. Probably the most obvious one here. There weren’t any smartphones back then and the reliance on horseless carriages now will be shocking.
- Modern Economy. The absence of the manor system would be shocking enough, although your medieval people might find small comfort in the large disparity between the working poor and rich. Few people work on farms and no one is tied to the land. Wealth depends on money, not (always) on land. Women are in the workforce and children aren’t expected to work.
- Things. Salt was pretty expensive. So was pepper, purple cloth, sugar, clothes, soap, silverware, paintings, and many other things we take for granted today. The middle class today has x200 more things than the middle class of the Middle Ages did. The material wealth would be staggering, and it wouldn’t be hard to convince a peasant that a lower-middle class family was somehow royalty.
- Standard of Living. Infant mortality is low. Many awful diseases (including the Black Death, cholera, and leprosy) are now curable. The average lifespan is about eighty in first world countries. People bathe regularly (with soap, which is now really cheap!!) and change clothes every day.
- Language. Depending on where they’re from, your characters will speak Middle English, Old English, Old French, Middle Danish, Vulgar Latin, or some other archaic form of a modern European language. Said languages don’t translate readily to their modern equivalent. For example, you can understand the gist of what a Middle English speaker is saying, but in some places they mind as well be speaking Urdu for all you understand.
- Education. Most people have had at least eight years of 3/4 year schooling. The schooling took place at a secular institution and everyone received the same opportunity, regardless of social status, religion, race, or gender. Most people know how to read and write, basic mathematics, and are versed in history, science, philosophy, athletics, art, music, and whatever other electives they took up in high school.
- Food. Medieval diets were high in vegetables if you were poor and meat if you were rich. Modern diets are a little more balanced. Modern foods are also laden with sugar and fat (delicacies in the Middle Ages), has tenderer meat, and often comes in a container if it’s not fresh produce. Drinking tap water (with a lemon?!?!?) will be hard to get used to for people who grew up on ale, mead, wine, and beer, and were told that drinking water was dangerous.
- Information. Letting a medieval person read the morning paper would amaze them. Taking a medieval person to the local library would blow them away. The amount of information we have at our fingertips even without the internet and television is staggering. Internet, radio, and television would be astounding and, since few know how the internet etc. work, perhaps magical.
- Government. Rights guaranteed for all? No monarchy? Democracy? They will be relatively new concepts for your characters, assuming they aren’t versed in Greek democratic literature.
- Interdependence. Manors sought to be self-sufficient. They were, for the most part, so anyone in a medieval village could usually find what they needed - clothes, tools, seed, food - from the people in the village or the materials in it. The modern era sees clothes from 100000 different brands, tools from China, seeds from Monsanto, and food from basically everywhere. Modern people don’t need to know how to grow their own food because they can just go to the supermarket to buy it.
- Morals. Women walking around with their hair unbound and displaying skin. Masturbation is the butt of jokes, not a moral sin. There is no such thing as a solemn promise. The death penalty is a last resort and not imposed in many places. Corporeal punishment is opposed. The whole concept of a life period between childhood and adulthood. The fact that people don’t know the intimate particulars of all their neighbors’ lives.
- He’s Dead, Jim. And, of course, your medieval people will need to deal with the fact that everyone they’ve ever known is dead. Their time period is hundreds if not a thousand years behind them. They will probably try to find out what happened to their families, towns, country, etc.
I list this, in part, because there continues to be an ongoing conversation about Terrence Howard’s comments. I began following the thread after leaving a comment several months ago. They are … interesting.
By Cedars. The Society’s website has online…
I made a slideshow about how to create a fictional character… I got most of the information from the ‘start writing fiction’ (free) course on the OpenUniversity website and found it incredibly useful so here’s a visual version for you :)
Anonymous asked: How do we write characters smarter than ourselves? Like expert hackers or detectives?
An expert hacker or a detective is not necessarily smarter than the average person… they just have experience in a specific area that most other people do not have.
So the key to doing this is researching the area you plan on making your character an expert of. Sherlock Holmes works by deduction which, in effect, is guesswork. I love his character, I love the books, I love the television series but sometimes he makes deductions which could easily have another explanation. However, the writer will make his explanation the right one, which backs up the idea that he boasts an impressive intelligence.
For example, in Sherlock specifically, I recall Sherlock deducing things about John Watson using the phone he has, claiming the original owner was an alcoholic. John is naturally impressed; ‘How could you possibly know about the drinking?’
Sherlock says, ‘Shot in the dark. Good one, though… every night, plugs it in to charge, but his hands are shaking. You’d never see those marks on a sober man’s phone, never see a drunk’s without them’.
I’m teetotal, but my phone has those scuff marks and that’s because my eyesight is chronically bad and every night I go to bed in the dark (naturally) without my glasses and spend a good five minutes trying to jam the charger into the general area of the port until I hit the right place.
Sherlock even admits it was a ‘shot in the dark’ - a pure guess. Of course, he has the confidence to run with it and balance it against other ‘facts’ he has taken from his observation of the phone and that’s what makes his ridiculous deduction work. Naturally, it’s even better that he just happened to be right…!
There is already a lot of stuff out there on this. Here are some links to get you started:
- Writing A Character Much, Much Smarter Than Yourself
- Writing A Genius Character
- FYCD: Previous Answer (with additions): Resources for ‘Tech Stuff’/Hacker Jargon
- Guide: How to Write a Smart Character
Best of luck…!
Stephen Colbert is CBS’ top choice to replace David Letterman, people familiar with both sides of the discussions tell Mashable.
There are specific ways to punctuate your dialogue. Learning to do this correctly will make you look more professional and accomplished as a writer to potential publishers and agents.
- Speech followed by a dialogue tag: “Come on,” she said. Use a comma after the speech, treat…
Community creator Dan Harmon’s Plot Embryo
- character is in his/her comfort zone
- but wants something
- finds him/herself in an unfamiliar situation
- that forces him/her to adapt
- character gets what he/she wanted
- but pays a heavy price
- character returns to the familiar/the comfort zone
- having changed
Also, check out the article How Dan Harmon Drives Himself Crazy Making Community from Wired about Community creator Dan Harmon’s theories on storytelling.