On average, how much do you invest in the research for your novel? How much time and energy are you willing to spend?
The main character, in my current Work in Progress, learns and uses the whip as a weapon. I may have gotten the idea from Indiana Jones, however, I needed to give this character a weapon that she could use from a relative distance, but also wouldn’t need “reloading.” I delved into medieval weaponry, you cannot attack a demon with a gun, and regular arrows would never work. And I was coming up empty-handed. When I decided on the whip, it was perfect, it even fit her personality.
There is a chapter on her training, part of which includes her learning the whip. But I had no idea how to handle one. So I started to look up how to handle the whip. I found loads of YouTube videos on how to crack etc with the whips (Even one two-handed which was awesome), which only made me realize how perfect the whip was for this character.But what I really wanted was how learning to crack, and catch with the whip feels in the body. And no amount of YouTube and reading was helping me.
I put an 8 foot bullwhip on my wish list at Amazon. And by christmas I was the owner of a brand new Indiana Jones style whip. I’ll admit that I was bit surprised I received it, but happy none-the-less. My first training session wasn’t as smooth as the YouTube video illustrates below. Since I’m just a beginner, I thought I’d just try cracking the whip, and when I master that, then I could move on. When I started this venture, I knew it would be hard; that it couldn’t be as easy as it appears in some of the YouTube videos.
I was unsure, however, how hard it would be. I still cannot crack the whip more than once or twice before my arms tire. I suppose that it would be better if I trained on a regular basis, I only practice about once a month, when life and writing are not in the way. But this kind of experience has taught me something about my character that I hadn’t expected to learn. While I knew beforehand that it was better for my character to attack from further away, I had not anticipated the amount of art, you could say, that would be required to use the chosen weapon as she will have to in order to stay alive in some of the situations that I intend to put her. This far into the year, after only a handful of sessions that leave my arms aching, I understand more about the muscles she’ll have to develop in order to keep her moving, and using her whips in battle.
I wonder how much authors normally put into their research for their characters. There was no amount of research I could have done to tell me which muscles I would need to train if I wanted to use a whip as a weapon. My only guide on that matter had to be personal experience. Logic says one thing, research another, and experience another. The only muscle that really needs to be worked is…guess. Cuz I’m not telling.