Grist For The Mill

The problem with moving into a new section of a novel set in a different place with specific technology means that you have to understand how that technology works before you can write it. Which means, in turn, that valuable writing time becomes research time.

I am about to know more on the subject of overshot water wheels, sluices, and dams than I ever thought I’d need to know.

ETA: See?

The sluice flow rate formula is:

Q = ACsqrt{2gh}


* Q is the flow
* A is the area of the sluice
* g is the acceleration due to gravity on the Earth’s surface (approx. 9.81 m/s²)
* h is the head across sluice
* C is the discharge coefficient (typically 0.61 for small depth ratios)

10 thoughts on “Grist For The Mill

  1. Ceri

    It’s not word count, but the research is important to the story, how well it flows, and how believable it is. Don’t be fooled by thinking it’s not progress. It _is_, just not something you can count.

  2. Owldaughter Post author

    I bought a book from the pet store and read it in an hour. It was that basic. :P

    I adore research, yes, but when I only have an hour in the morning to write (if I’m lucky) it’s mildly frustrating. Like now, for example: I know the basics of overshot water wheels, and I’m about to have someone work with a sluice gate, except I don’t know if he has to open it or close it so I’m on my way to look, losing more time.

    I know research is part of the game; I’m just at a point where I’d like to see word count accumulate some more so I don’t end this session feeling like the time was wasted. (And I know it’s not, but however and nonetheless. So there.)

  3. Talyesin

    I understand completely. Yesterday was supposed to be all about Aftermath on Finite Earths, and yet I wound up watching several episodes of the new The Batman series and spending a lot of time on Wikipedia looking up Justice Society background stuff.

    Technically research. Still, it felt like I wasn’t producing.

    You’ll get there.

  4. Owldaughter Post author

    That’s it. Progress, but no production.

    And of course now that I know all this info I have to hold myself back from pulling an “as you know, Bob” and putting dull lecturey stuff right into the story.

  5. Talyesin

    Ye gods, woman are you putting MATH into your story?!

    No no no no no. That way lies madness.

    “Water pours through here, turns that turning thing, makes that wheely doodad go, crushes the grain to make flour. Any questions? No? Good, get back to work.”

    Or in the words of everyone’s favourite scruffy-lookin’ nerf-herder, “THIS goes there and THAT goes here!”

    (Seriously though, my respect for your dedication to research has grown immeasurably. Kudos.)

  6. Owldaughter Post author

    I don’t need it for the story. It’s simply the perfect example of the type of information I never thought I’d possess on the topic.

    The fact that it’s somewhere in my brain now does not guarantee that I will be able to produce it impressively at dinner parties, more’s the pity.


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