CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

Ridiculously PICKY Entry Regarding Fanfic...

If the entire concept of research as regards writing fanfic turns you off, quit reading right now. Seriously.

I plan to freely rant about the way most of the authors I've been reading lately tend to disregard doing research...

Marilyn mistressmarilyn and I were recently discussing our fic and -- the fact that we're not nearly as prolific as many writers. Marilyn made the point that aside from not having as much free time for writing as we might wish (sigh), we also spend a lot of time on each fic we do write.

The 'why' is clear enough -- we're both really picky about getting the details correct!

Here's my latest example: A person writing in King Arthur fandom was describing a battle -- and in particular was describing a certain knight and his riding. (To avoid the slim possibility this person might stumble across this, I'm not mentioning names. Honest, I'm not trying to hurt any feelings here!)

First of all, let's talk about the movie "King Arthur" (2004). The knights are all Sarmatians. What do we know about the Sarmatians? Clearly if we're most people writing KA fic, we know little or nothing. (grin)

Well, according to my (hours) of research, the Sarmatians were a people originally of Iranian stock. They migrated from Central Asia to the Ural Mountains somewhere between the 6th and 4th century B.C.

Eventually they settled in (most of) southern European Russia -- and the eastern Balkans. They were probably descendants of the Scythians (or closely related to them).

Like the Scythians, the Sarmatians had highly developed horsemanship and warfare. And, yes, the Sarmatians were composed of a number of various tribes -- which is actually rather well portrayed in "King Arthur." And as I'm a stickler about the whole Arthurian thing, you can figure I'm pretty pleased, or I'd say so at this point... (grin)

That's just the basics about them -- I could go on about them for pages (and pages), seeing as I researched them for hours -- over several days! (smile)

Anyway, like any of the peoples of that time period (and later) who used horses for warfare, they were accomplished riders. King Arthur's knights would all have been practically born in the saddle -- that was certainly true of the average Sarmatian!

But unlike the riding style of the average Asian nomadic tribesmen (from where they hailed), they'd have learned the techniques that were currently practised by those who did battle on horseback, including (but not limited to) dressage (or more simply put, reining).

Even though they were already accomplished in the saddle, you have to figure that the Romans would have trained them in various techniques, as well...

Actually, dressage as we know it today developed out of the actual need for using reining in battle. (Modern dressage, in other words, came out of the requirements of the past -- including warfare on horseback.)

So -- as we can easily see -- if men were to fight from the saddle with weapons of any kind it appears it would require amazing abilities with dressage! (Or, in simplier terms, how they handled the reins.)

And, frankly, it would also be about how they managed a horse when they didn't have control of the reins, as well!

By the way, did those of you who saw the movie notice that all of the knights were riding stallions? This was done because for going into battle they were thought to be braver -- and to show more aptitude for pirouetting, leaping, turning, and moving sideways. (Even the Greek commander Xenophon wrote about dressage -- and other horse-related matters -- back in mid-400 B.C. The things he said then are still being applied today!)

Yeah, I'm rambling...

The bottom line? I immediately wondered if the person writing the story had ever been on a horse or around horses. Then I wondered what the author knew about horses in the time period of KA.

It was clear to me that the person hadn't done any research regarding the subject.

Why? The author had the knight lose hold of his reins -- and then fall because of it.

If any of you do happen to ride, you'd know right off that losing your reins -- even when you're at a gallop -- won't automatically mean you'll fall from the horse. (grin)

Yes, the knights of the time did fall from their horses! That's accurately portrayed in the movie, by the way. Usually they'd be knocked from the steed during the melee of battle.

Actually, though, Arthur and his knights wouldn't have spent nearly as much time fighting on the ground as we saw. They'd have done the majority of their fighting from the back of a horse! That was the sort of 'poetic license' that a movie takes because it wants us to be able to focus on a given person/knight while they're fighting -- which is much harder to do when they're on a horse.

It's also harder to film battles on horseback, frankly. (A whole different story.) And the actors wouldn't be as well trained as the actual knights (no kidding, right?) -- nor would the horses necessarily be as well trained as their mounts would have been...

Although I have to admit being impressed by the seat of those actors! I did read about Clive Owen learning to ride for the part. Impressive training. You'd never guess from watching him that he hadn't been riding all his life!

It's perhaps a little tedious to look up horse sites and then research the history of riding. I suppose if you don't have prior knowledge of horses, that could be a disadvantage, as well.

Still, it's worth it in my book!

I won't fb the author in question, though I suppose I should. I think I'd come off as being anal and picky by mentioning the flaw. I guess as it's only one small line in the work, it doesn't matter all that much to most people. I saw the fic get at least one really excellent review/feedback -- and it even mentioned the line that spoke of the reins! It bugged me so much I wanted to feedback the feedback and say 'Wait! Noooooo!' (smile)

Do we owe it to our readers to try to be accurate about these details? Hell, you'll probably say that we're amateur writers who write fandom-related fiction (fanfic) -- so what's the big deal?

I guess I feel we owe it to ourselves to try to learn about these things, more than anything else.

Marilyn and I are both amazed by various details we've learned about a wide variety of subjects recently -- all tied to our writing of fic! We both feel as if the research for the work has actually improved us as people.

Tags: 2004, feedback, fic, king-arthur, october-2004

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