blogging, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Ask me your questions, Bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), the Bridgekeeper prevented any knight unable to answers his questions from crossing the bridge. Wrong answers got the knight tossed into the gully below. Think of the Bridgekeeper as your readers – who will toss your book aside if it is not answering their questions.

I write hard sci-fi and I have a WiP with a deadline that hinges on my understanding of something many sci-fi fans know more about than I do: Is quantum superposition universal? Getting this wrong in a hard sci-fi story has the same effect as say, firing seven shots from a six-shooter in an old west tale, or getting the royal succession wrong in a historical novel, or misusing DNA to identify the killer in a detective story. The knowledgeable reader dismisses the story as beneath his reading level.

Asking a science fiction group on facebook, “Is quantum superposition universal?” got me 35 knowledgeable answers. Now, I don’t know more about quantum mechanics than I did, but, I do know what most readers in my genre will accept.

I also learned that readers are not afraid to tell you what they expect from a good story.


9 thoughts on “Ask me your questions, Bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

  1. mimispeike says:

    Well, GD. You have your methods, I have mine. When I’m writing about stuff I know little on – life aboard sailing ships, for instance – I confess it in the footnotes:

    “For all my research on ships, physical set-up, handling, jargon, etc., I am mixing info from various centuries, also making things up, and will not fool the knowledgable. I’m a dunce on ships. This is for (silly) entertainment value only.”

    Personally, I think my pirate episode sounds damn good. But reading Captain Blood and Two Years Before The Mast and the like goes only so far.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Perry Palin says:

    Every universe has its rules, and a writer had better know them.

    I’ll accept the writer’s facts when I don’t know any better. But a good story should confirm, rather than counter, things that I already know for sure.

    Back in Book Country days I called out a writer who had whitetail deer go into a barn for winter shelter, and a pair of horses that stayed in a field when the rest of the herd ran away. The writer confessed to having grown up in town, and he didn’t know the ways of deer or horses.These were secondary details that damaged an otherwise good story idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. mimispeike says:

    Not too many joining the discussion so I will share, off topic.

    I have started The Alchemaster’s Apprentice. The apprentice is a talking cat. The Alchemaster is a smelly old man. This caught my eye: “His clothes were permanently impregnated with those odors.”

    GD, remember my idea about the hanging balls of perfume? The court costumes were so elaborate, so heavily embellished, that they were never laundered. (This is absolutely true.) They were spot-cleaned, if at all. In any space packed with smartly dressed females, Sly, with his sensitive nose, was on the verge of nausea.

    I’m only on page four. And I have a three-book series, arrived today. Four pages in, Walter Moers has won my heart already.

    This is going to be good.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. GD Deckard says:

    Yup, Mimi 🙂
    Y’gotta wonder what smells hung in the air, back then. I remember as late as last century (I love saying that) I walked the streets and smelled bread baking, food cooking, men’s colognes & of course women’s perfumes, all of which spiced less savory aromas. Not that it mattered. Smells of people added depth that is lacking in today’s scrubbed world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. victoracquista says:

    To return to your post, getting it right is important for the readers who value that. There are potential readers who know less about quantum superposition than either of us, but they still might enjoy the story whether you get it right or not. I am thinking there are likely more potential readers in this group than in the hard core group.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      Hmm. As usual, Victor, you’re making me think. I’ll get back to you on this.
      🙂 Tomorrow, we’re driving up to Sarasota for the Itzhak Perlman concert. My Lady’s 10 year old granddaughter (among other kids) is playing violin with the world’s greatest violinist. I’ll be in the company of a very proud Grandmother 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mimispeike says:

    Huh! Enjoy being somewhere where the temperature is not seven degrees, where your furnace has just died.

    The oilman was just here and got it going. Happy New Year!

    My plan for the New Year was to post an intro to Sly on With the headline: I Start the (Fur) Ball Rolling. I’m pretty discombobulated at the moment. Can I get myself back on track?

    Liked by 1 person

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