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Picturing a World


More hands from Renaissance Painting & Drawing Techniques. A story I am working on now involves a printer and bookseller in an imaginary Renaissance world. The company prints textbooks on cheap paper if a print run will make a profit. For less-used titles, students borrow fascicles of approved exemplars to copy by hand. I'm always interested in concrete, material details of life in my fictional settings, whether they make it into the story or not.

Notice here, for instance, how the copyist uses his left arm to hold open the book he is copying. Also the stand it rests on, the position of his hands, and his grip on his pen. None of this may come into play in my story. Then again, maybe a book being copied will turn out to rest on something else vital to the plot. Or a copyist's elbow will knock over a pile with unexpected results. The more you know about your world, the more easily you move around in it, and the more possibilities it holds.

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