Sunday, 23 February 2014

My first novel - research

I really jumped into this novel writing feet first.

I have been researching a few facts today for the opening scenes. Facts such as:-

  • How far does an army march in a day?
  • How many men would be in a medieval - middle ages army?
  • What sort of rank would an officer be for a given number of men?

Just to get the facts right is nice but the answers to some of these questions will have profound effects later on in the novel. For example, I plan to have my protagonist hiding whilst fighting a guerilla war. How large an area should the country / continent / world be which I am designing. I can draw a map and add names and locations of major towns / villages / etc but it couldn't happen on a football pitch. And conversely, if too big how would the troops get from place to place in a reasonable time.

I am beginning to find that I need to make lots of assumptions about things which at first seemed straightforward. I need to take a step back and get my locations properly designed for the plot which is mainly in my head at the moment.

I am writing, but leaving some things to be filled in or sorted later. Of course some things cannot be treated like this and need the facts correct in the first place. I am learning as I go along and will be watching out for these instances.

BTW how far would an army be expected to march in a day?

It depends on many things but 10 - 20 miles a day seems to be reasonable. At a push trained and fit troops could probably do 30 but not everyday.

And how many men in that army?

Again location is so important, warfare in Europe was very different to that in the far east at that time. But consider Europe; an army of 10,000 (large for Europe in say the begiining of the 100 years war) there would be between 200 and 1200 knights or mounted fighters. With say 3000 mercenaries and 5,500 peasants or the equivalent. But this number would probably be doubled when all the supporting trades are taken into account. From Cooks to blacksmiths to Fletchers (who made the arrows).

And last but not least, a company (80 - 200) would be commanded by a captain or major. A regiment of 3 - 5000 would be led by a colonel or a brigadier general. But these are probably modern ranks. Many of the officers in the sort of army I am thinking of would be aristocracy, so more research needed. Ah well, back to the drawing board.

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