Lifelong Learning as a Writing Aid

I enjoy learning new things. I watch documentaries all the time. I’m on a quest to read about as many religions and mythologies as I can (the source for last week’s post). This is not only good for the mind, but for writing.
I don’t write about dinosaurs enough. When I do get around to writing about them I will know they are feathered, colorful creatures. A recent study managed to get pigments from the feathers of a small turkeylike dinosaur. Modern experts on color found the actual color of the creature. It was mostly black with a crimson crest most likely as a mating display). Not only is this cool, it changes how the creatures act and makes them more dangerous. For example, raptors had long feathers on their forelimbs to help them turn rapidly.
This kind of information can be used so many ways. For example, take the true history of European expansion into the Americas. You could create an action hero situation. A lone native, the last of his tribe, wreaking nightly vengeance on the English Protestants who killed and converted his people. I used facts on the black death in my story A Final Goodbye. I even did research that changes the nature of my main character. Bards were not pure musicians. They did juggling, tumbling, and jokes. They also tended to be sedentary. Troubadours were musicians and often traveled to find new audiences and songs.
So you can see how even cursory explorations can lead to major changes to what people think they know. So next time you are stuck on what to write watch a documentary. There’s a great one on Amazon where a group of scientists perform a mock dissection of a T-Rex.

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