Think like a blacksmith. That’s been my motto the last few days as I’ve attacked a chapter (that was originally twelve and is now… well, something like twenty four or so) that I originally finished by writing: <eventually insert detailed gun creation here when I do more research and can pull it off instead of sounding like I know absolutely nothing about guns, since I know absolutely nothing about guns at the moment>
Since most of the fantasy fiction I’ve written before is firmly rooted in a time and place of its own, adhering to no particular restrictions, I’ve never really had to worry too much about accuracy. But this time around, delving into fantasy steampunk–well, I guess technically I don’t have to have it 100% accurate, yet it still requires a considerable amount of research.
Since I’ve decided to edit the book through each POV, I’ve been in Brick Smithson world lately. Brick’s a blacksmith’s kid (hence the last name) who ends up as a page to one of the most renowned and slightly notorious knights in the realm, Sir Gawen of Fenlie. His talent as a smith is an extremely valuable asset in this world, as those who have technology can often have the upper hand. While Brick spends the first half of the book dodging bullets and learning the ropes of being a page, he finally comes face to face with a forge.
I was able to visit a late 19th century forge at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville a few months ago, and even got to see a blacksmith at work. Aside from television, I’d never seen or heard the process. What got me about blacksmithing was the noise, the music, the percussive rhythm that comes as a result of the hammer. A skilled smith really turns the work into a song. Needless to say I came home with a keychain made by the aforementioned smith, but it took a great amount of convincing for me to actually leave.
So, now, I’m writing this scene again with Brick at the forge for the first time. Earlier in the book we don’t get a chance to see him at work (though I may change that slightly). One of the important elements in my story is in regard to the talents and abilities (magic, middling magic, and mucho magic) that my characters possess. Though, on the first glance, one might not think that a keen ability to understand smithing would be much of a magical ability, I want to challenge the notion that magic has to be wrapped up in silver orbs, blasts of energy, telepathy, and the like. I wanted Brick to represent the Hephaestus/Thor ancient magic. And so he does.
Blacksmithing is a fascinating craft, as its sister gunsmithing. But the learning curve is steep. I’m admittedly having fun doing the research, but the writing is going super-slow. I’m trying not to worry about the details too much (the metal is like copper, for instance, but not exactly copper) but it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to channel my energy the last few days in getting through the actual smithing scene. I finished it last night, but now I have to move on through the rest of the narrative without letting the other characters interrupt my train of thought. It’s new, this approach, but it does help me focus.
If you can’t stand the heat, get outta the forge, right?