I’m a real stickler for accuracy in my writing, even when I know that a reader probably wouldn’t notice the difference either way. As you can imagine, this caused me a whole lot of grief while writing a fantasy – a genre that, by definition, doesn’t necessarily have to make any sense. I was satisfied to disguise some of the nonsense with a mix of sci-fi and magical elements which I hoped would allow my audience to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the story, but there were some things that I just couldn’t force myself to ignore, so I set about trawling the internet for the most convincing facts.
That was a phrase I felt very silly typing into google. But as many of the leading characters in Chasing Shadows appear as humans with wings, I just had to know. For a human to be capable of flying with bird-like wings, just how big would they need to be? Well, depending on the weight of the person in question, I’m reliably informed that they would need a wingspan between 12 and 16 feet. Apparently. Not sure how the researcher in question came to that conclusion, but at least I can sleep soundly knowing that I have some sort of evidence to back me up here. Never mind the fact that the characters’ wings weren’t necessarily made of feathers. I’m sure that changes everything, but I’m just not going to think about it!
The Tallest Building in the World
A large part of my story takes place in an unreasonably large office building. It had to be taller than anything my protagonist had seen before, but without erring on the side of ridiculous. So, to begin with, what counts as tall? I live out in the countryside in rural England so there aren’t very many skyscrapers around here. Even in the nearest town, the largest building I could find for some perspective was 21 stories high. So a truly high skyscraper could have been 100 stories or 1,000 stories for all I knew.
I started off by finding out the size of the tallest building in the world; it’s the Burj Khalifa, standing at 2,716ft stall, with over 160 stories. So that should be my minimum. And how about my maximum? I don’t want a building that is scraping the atmosphere. Well, the atmosphere is 52,400ft above ground. If the Burj Khalifa is 2,716ft tall, that gives it an average of 16ft per story, which means that a building could be around 3,086 stories high before it hit the o-zone. Ugh. I hate maths. In the end, I decided to go about twice as high as the tallest building. That must be physically possible, right?
Maybe this has given you an insight into my irritatingly perfectionist mind. Or maybe I just seem a little unhinged. Even in fantasy, I just can’t leave the smallest plot-hole unfilled.