Doing a little research often helps me piece a story together when I’m just getting started with it. Also, I’m convinced that a solid foundation in certain areas – horses, weapons, military tactics, etc. – makes for better fantasy fiction. I’ve just started another short story that begins in a small village on a fantasy world in medieval times.
To come up with some character ideas, I made a list of professions common in small communities during the middle ages:
- Smith – blacksmith, goldsmith, or silversmith – a crafter of metals.
- Miller – grinds grains into flour
- Farmer – grows crops and raises animals
- Butcher – slaughters animals and processes the meat
- Tanner – tans animal hides for leather and similar materials
- Innkeeper – owns and runs the inn and/or tavern
- Trader/Merchant – moves goods between settlements
- Chandler – makes candles and other things of wax
- Farrier – shoes horses
- Carver/carpenter – crafts wood
- Wainwright – makes and repairs wagons
- Dyer – colors fabrics for clothing
- Weaver – makes clothing and other things on a loom
- Thatcher – builds and repairs thatch roofs
- Tailor – makes clothes for men
- Seamstress – makes dresses and clothes for women
Since many fantasy worlds have a nobility, it’s also fun to think about the members of a noble’s household:
- Servants – manservants, maidservants, scullery maids, spit boys, etc.
- Cooks and chefs
- Stablemaster – in charge of the horses and stable
- Huntsmaster – usually a hunting guide, tracker, and taker of game
- Armsmaster – oversees military men and their training
- Castellan – looks after the castle while the lord’s away
- Clerk – keeps records and often manages day-to-day finances
- Nurse/nanny – looks after the lord’s children
I’m sure are many more of these – please let me know if you think of any!
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