icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Biscuit tin

A poor student in my current fantasy story occupies a sparsely furnished attic room and makes do with a storage chest for a desk. It was enchanting, therefore, to come across this 10th C illumination of St. John: William's desk leapt right out. I've been debating whether to give the young man a writing board or portable desk (I think I will), but what really caught my attention was that box the good saint is sitting on. It looks like a biscuit tin! I collect images of medieval scribes at work and room interiors, and I've never seen anything like it.

I'd love to know more about what the box with a face is intended to signify in the illustration; and if I were trying to write historical fiction accurate to a period, I would need to find out. But if I wanted to borrow it for my current story, I could make up my own explanation—have my student sit on a bit of architectural rubble, for instance. For a different fantasy, I could ask, In what kind of world would there be both biscuit tins and quill pens? As a prompt for a modern story, I can imagine a child sitting on a large biscuit tin in the secret place she has created for herself as a retreat. The point is, for a writer, it's always worth taking note of odd details and then figuring out how to use them.


For more about medieval desks and laptop writing surfaces, click here

Be the first to comment