Monday, August 21, 2006

Trying It At Home...

I know how to do a number of fairly useless things: how to make a full court curtsey and how to "make a leg."
I can also imitate the sound of a cat throwing up.
Natural talent.

So am always fascinated by odd bits of information presented in novels.
Many times I've read about characters checking for a pulse with fingers pressed against the side of some inert neck.
Guess what?
I can't find my own pulse that way.
I don't have a fat neck either.
Maybe I'm dead.

There's the alleged hunter's trick of silently waking a sleeping companion by pressing behind their left ear. Presumably they awake without the usual mutters, groans and WTF's.
Never tried that.
Risked a Pepy's wife's eye if it didn't work.

Odd physical details are important in fiction.
Sometimes readers remember them long after they've forgotten the plot.

I've spent time with a baton practising how to present a drawn sword one-handed, across the forearm, hilt first. In a clear space, of course.

Must request my six-foot-something-son-in-law to fall to his knees next time I see him, so I can see how high his head comes against the side of a woman about my height.

Can you remember any quirky bit of information in a story that intrigued you? Have you tested it yourself? Have you gone to some lengths to validate your own bits of variance?

Monday Reminder: Flood's interviews. Always interesting.


Flood said...

Reminds me of the time I asked my husband (yes, for a story!)to strangle me, to find out if he needed extended arms to get a death grip.

He didn't.

EA Monroe said...

Never pitch a camp beside running water. You might not hear the ambush sneaking up. Running a length of rope around a sleeping bag to keep out the rattlesnakes. Never stick your tongue to something frozen, especially metal. Does sex count? Sorry, Bernita. I had to beat Ric to that one! ;-)

Robyn said...

If one is caught in a maze, put your right hand on the wall, and do not take it off as you walk through. It will eventually lead you out.

I haven't had any mazes around to try that one out, but I've always wanted to!

Bernita said...

That's exactly the thing, Flood.
Note: only do this with a trust-worthy companion.

Like the running water idea, EA.
The sort of thing that makes one go "of course...perfect sense!" and stash it away in-the-event-of.
Sex always counts.

Yes, that would intrigue me too, Robyn, and want to try it, just to see...

MissWrite said...

LOL@ being able to imitate the sound of a cat hocking one. That's too funny. Not a talent that gains you many friends at cocktail parties though, I would imagine.

I did have to smile at the question about testing things out because it brought to mind a recent author of mine telling me that he knew the trip wire bomb his theif had to set in a hurry would work cause he just tested it at home and did it in under 4 seconds.


That was my reaction to reading his response to me. LOL

(Okay, he used clothesline and cutips--whew)

Bernita said...

Would never display it at a cocktail party, Tami - unless, of course, it was held in a cat-house.

Used to drive my mother into a frenzy, looking for the cat to put it out.
I highly approve of his dedication, but then I tried to make a Molotov coctail when I was a kid.

Ric said...

sex? we're talking about sex?

Had to laugh at the pulse in the neck - just finished a newly published first novel by a fellow Publishers Marketplace member, and she had that exact bit in it. I'm going to ask some nurse and paramedic friends to confirm.

Maybe you are dead.

Don't recall testing out ideas to see if they actually work - well, maybe some of the sex things...
but that's just me.

nessili said...

The neck thing does work. Either up close to-the jaw or about either side of the Adams apple.I think it's the carotid artery that runs through there, but don't quote me on that. I can find my neck pulse easier than my wrist, and I'm a bit on the padded side. So maybe you are dead :)

Let me know about the tall guy kneeling-my DH and I are both relatively short, but most heroes are relatively tall.

Pitching camp beside running water also makes you have to go :) Tho' I had some friends from camp who found themselves floating to sleep because they camped beside a river and it rained upstream.

Scott said...

Wilbur Smith often features a Bushman of the Kalihari as a hero, and I am always impressed by the technical details of how they can, for instance, find water in the desert, make poison for the tips of arrowheads, track people and animals, or create false trails by donning the feet of killed animals. And much, much more. The details of sailing for instance, how to read the stars or navigate the oceans.

Bernita said...

You're dying for us to ask, aren't you, Ric?
Some of those shower and kitchen counter/bathroom vanity scenes have me puzzled.

~ pressing hither and yon~
You may be right, Nessili. Think I am dead.
From the neck up, obviously.
I can find it on my wrist.

An excellent example, Scott.
Have read one or two of those. Fascinating, and full of just those sorts of details.

S. W. Vaughn said...

I'm trying so hard... Bernita, you are now in my head, flourishing about in the yard with a baton. That is SO AWESOME! Honestly, I never would have thought of doing that, and I do have a brief swordfight in one of my novels.

**looking around for a baton**

Er...have I ever done any hands-on research for my novels, for odd physical details? Um. Yes.

Can I plead the Fifth here?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yuhoo! Ric...I was a nurse...when I was a youngster...That is how you check for a pules, but not like they show it on TV.

It is necessary to press the fingers into the hollow created by the jaw and Adam's apple. The pulse is right below that gland that sometimes swells up when you are sick!

These are all ingenius things to remember, especially the thing about the rope around the sleeping back. Although I have no idea why a sane person would sleep on the ground, risking a slithering attack as they slept!

I'm the camper with the laptop, TV and BED...inside an inclosed CAMPER...LOL!

Bernita said...

There is no "Fifth" in this living room, Sonya...

Eureka! Bonnie!
Found it. Not dead yet.
Had to press though, not the delicate touch I've
seen/read portrayed.

Gabriele C. said...

I act out fighting scenes in front of the sleeping room mirror. Wish I had more space. :)

S. W. Vaughn said...

Damn! Why not? :-)

Okay, but since we're all writers here, I will just say that my thrillers are violent and contain some aspects of torture. Now use your imaginations.

No, not THAT.

Going to write now! Whee!!

Bernita said...

Think it is vital to do so, Gabriele, if one is going to get into any detail at all.
I also spent part of one afternoon crawling on my hands and knees through weeds, just to make sure...

I'm sure it's a clipping good story, Sonya.
~sorry, couldn't resist~

Rick said...

From a Heinlein YA, on knife fighting: "the relaxed thumb-and-two-fingers grip of those who understand steel." (A wonderful synecdoche, too, which some clueless critic actually complained about.)

Knowing how to do a full court curtsey would be useful to me! I never actually have to describe one, but I do wonder whether my mental image is correct.

You're right about ea and camping by running water - wouldn't have thought about it, but obvious once you hear it!

EA Monroe said...

Scott, Bernita,
I use the Big Dipper for latitude and time (within 30 minutes). Always helpful when camping out or on the road at night without a watch. Not so helpful with the rattlers or if it's raining!

Here's the link:

Savannah Jordan said...

HS Kinn has a line in Immortal Reveries where her vampire drags his fang across a vein. That one stuck with me, big time.

As to me testing things bet! Other, um...'scenes' aside, I once sat on a chair and had DH stand next to me to varify the height of the hindquarter in correlation to my hand, and it's placement. :)

Savannah Jordan said...

As to the pulse in your neck, take your first two fingers, and press up under the corner of your jaw bone. You should feel a pulse then.

Bernita said...

With full skirts, crinolines, Rick, the trick is to put one foot in front of the other at an angle, spread your knees, sink and rest on your heel.
Needs practise and balance. Rising gracefully is the biggest challenge.

Bernita said...

Useful, EA. Thank you.

I'm going to have bruises on my neck if I keep this up, Savannah!

kmfrontain said...

The right hand on the maze wall trick works. You don't need a real maze. You can test it with any online maze game in which you, the player, are in the maze. Just always turn right. And you can always make one out of kiddie blocks and run your finger around the right wall.

And I don't want to tell you what I've tested to make sure it's accurate.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Karen.
Alriiiight...any neat/ curious bits of useful/interesting information in other people's stuff?

Carla said...

Oh, dear, I can see the pulse in my neck, and feel it with a fingertip. Under the corner of the jaw on either side. It's the carotid artery. Can also find the pulse in my wrist very easily, and I checked that it does race when I'm frightened or upset.

I borrow scrambling and hiking methods from real life, because I do a lot of that anyway. I checked walking by moonlight and navigating by the stars and both work provided I know the ground well. And I remember checking that a thick leather belt would hold my weight as an improvised rope without breaking. Not that that's a very severe test.

Bernita said...

Obviously, it's just me, Carla.
Just as I suspected.
Dead from the neck up.

kmfrontain said...

I did test sucking and licking at the same time when one author mentioned kissing lips to lips, but described it as sucking while also lashing the tongue. It don't work. Can't literally suck on another mouth whilst lashing with the tongue. Not enough of a seal. You'd have to suck in all of the partner's lips and lash the poor squooshy mess to bits while it was in your mouth.

There. Now you know why I said I don't want to say what I've tested. 0_o

Some of it's downright silly, but you know, purple prose in erotica is worse.

Bernita said...

You've just illustrated why I think I have a permanent "?" over my head when I read some of that stuff.

nessili said...

Madeline Brent's another good author for little interesting tidbits.

My pulse is a lot stronger on the right side then the left.

Hey Bonnie--so you went from sewing up people to sewing up clothes?

I occassionally sit there singing very loudly in a made up language to see if the syllables flow together easily. I do wait for the DH to leave the house, put the baby down for a nap, and turn the dogs outside before I do :)

The rope and rattlesnake trick works? I'd hate to test that one. I've killed enough copperheads around here to know pit vipers are nasty little beasts. Their jaws keep striking even after you chop off the head. Up to an hour after. *shudders*

I do know if you're a small girl trying to hold a carbine, you have to hold it a little funny, and that puts the cap and hammer right next to your ear. I was deaf in that ear for days. And the taste of blackpowder is something I'll never forget.

And don't try to hold a full-length blackpowder rifle and bayonet in the standard marching position if you have any sort of chest. Can seriously damage the soldier behind you :P

Lynn said...

My BP is so low I've rarely been able to find my own carotid pulse. More reliable way is to press two fingertips firmly against the bone in your wrist directly below the pad of your thumb.

My talents aren't as interesting. I can get fully dressed or undressed without using my fingers, change a diaper with one hand while holding the baby in my other arm, and pick up almost anything with my toes, including coins from a flat surface. Preferably not all at the same time.

I've always wanted to make French fried ice cream, something I read in an old (Sandra Brown?) romance novel. Have yet to find a viable recipe.

For the sake of my art, and to get the right size/motion for my alien protagonist, I once accepted an invitation to climb into a tank with a killer whale and his trainer. Imagine a subway train rushing past a shrimp in the water, and that's what it's like to be that close. :)

Jaye Wells said...

I had a scene with a bikini wax in my last book. I didn't have to guts to try that one out.

Bernita said...

Singing the words - that's a good idea, Nessili!
Re-enactment groups are a valuable resource for period details.
Watched a charging line of redcoats at Fort George once. Truly gave meaning to the laconic line in the histories "thrust home the attack at the point of the bayonet."

The things we do for the "art," Lynn!
Think I would have muddied the water, had it been I.
Had to suppress the urge to try to make cheeze after reading one of the "Little House on the Prairie" books.

A smart thing not to do, Jaye.

Dakota Knight said...

Bernita, I just finished listening to Deception Point by Dan Brown, and I was particularly interested in the information about the underwater volcanos and the havoc they can potentially cause out in the open seas. I actually intend to find more information on the subject. I tend to enjoy reading novels that can thrill me and give me little known (to me) tidbits of info.

Dakota Knight said...

Oh, I forgot to mention. Delta One, one of the characters in the book, kills a scientist using the Russian white death, stuffing packs of snow into a person's mouth to suffocate them. Uh...I don't know if this is one I want to try. :-)

Bernita said...

I do too, Dakota, and a skillful writer can make the absorption painless.

Bet you won't forget that little fact, though.