Common Errors in Ficton Manuscripts, Part 5

I’m afraid I’m a tyrant about good research.

I received one fantasy story that had a fellow stop into an inn, and there roasting on the fire was a whole cow. Now, unless that inn was more like an enormous Best Western capable of serving 1000 very generous meals, that’s completely out of scale. There’s a minimum of a thousand pounds of meat being turned by some hapless and burly minion, assisted by another minion whose sole occupation is to chop and ferry wood to a hearth that would make the average medieval kitchen hearth of 13 or so feet seem miniscule.

Historically an inn served simpler and smaller dishes. A chicken or a leg of mutton might be the largest you’d see roasted. More often a stew, a pottage, a savoury pie, a plate or bowl of bread (often the plate or bowl was a slab of bread) with cured meats, boiled eggs, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and more particularly cheese would be common fare at an inn.

Then there are the stories that refer to a bowstring as a cord, or have a woman travelling on a train in a full bustle, or people raised for the quality of their intellect on a starvation diet.

In this remarkable age of the world’s greatest encyclopaedia (the Internet), there is no excuse for shoddy research.

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