Researching a book

Discussion in 'The Quarterdeck' started by Keypusher, Sep 12, 2007.

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  1. Hello folks. I'm a part time novellist currently working on a book that features several characters from the RN. I wonder if any of you would mind if I ask a few "cultural" questions, as opposed to the technical kind. You see, I'm interested in finding out more about the day to day attitudes and usage of terms than I'm likely to find from most public domain resources, or am likely to learn without joining the service!

    For instance, I've heard that there are certain customary nicknames for people with particular surnames. For example, I've been told that people called Smith are usually referred to as Smudge. I've also gleaned that Petty Officers are often referred to as PO's, but what are Warrant Officers abbreviated to in spoken conversation? How would you typically address Warrant Officer Smith when you met him in the corridor? If being polite, that is!

    I like to get the details right as this lends itself to creating an atmosphere of realism and believability and consistency. I'm sure that as I develop the plot and characters concerned, I'll come up with a few more questions of this nature. I would be very grateful for any assistance forum members feel inclined to lend.

    Thanks for your time
  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Hiya, Welcome to the site, "I'm a novelist who cannot spell my job...."

    Nice one. Do have fun on the site.
  3. I provide the "vision", the copy editor provides the "spelling and punctuation".
  4. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Can I suggest a fantastic book called Jackspeak by Rick Jolly, which is an encyclopaedic record of centuries of Naval traditions, slang and phrases. It is informative and very funny!

    What's the plot of the book?
  5. The RN website has a section on slang and nicknames:

    Click Here

    There's quite a bit of info on that part of the site, but Jackspeak as recommended by SgtPB is a better read and has all the day-to-day slang.
  6. Either you are reincarnation of "Norman" or you have to many miles to go if you intend ti write a book about the RN. Corridors are passages on ships and thats before you start on decks, deckheads, bulk heads, heads et-al. I would give up now move it over to the army.

  7. Thanks for the book and website references!

    Well, I'm not going to describe that in detail at this stage, but the backcover blurb goes something like this: a young man, orphaned by the greed of powerful men, abandons his dreams and escapes to a simpler, harder life. In the aftermath of disaster, he learns of an inheritance worth billions and resolves to use his new fortune to atone for past mistakes, even if it means dealing with criminals to keep his grand project alive.

    But sometimes even a billionaire can't foot the bill for saving the world, and powerful men intervene once again, with disastrous results.

    Lots of action takes place north of the Arctic circle.
    Teaser: it's got a Type 45 in it towards the end.
  8. Even in a stone frigate?
  9. When addressing the Joss to his face always say YES MASTER.... never No.... ;) and don't forget he carries a big white stick.... that's where the term Joss Stick comes from. :biggrin:
  10. Yes, as are the floors, decks and you go ashore when leaving said Frigate.


    Good evening Norm.
  11. Visit here............ This is where the Navy's Elite trained (other than the underwater matelots).

    Eton for Ratings

    Look it has a Mast. Ergo it was a REAL ship, complete with quarterdeck, main deck, messdecks, gangways, Bumboats, etc. The reason you cannot see anyone is they all ran away......... ;)
  12. Hey, I never got a ship with a bumboat............I'm gonna complain now...
  13. The Lordships were so scared by brownhatters that they renamed them Liberty Boats.... but they're really bumboats.... honest! Trust me, I'm a Civvy ;)

    Pssst: Don't tell Norman that bumboats are a relic of Nelson's time ;)
  14. As described here :salut:

  15. We didnt run away, we woz drafted!
  16. Thanks for the replies so far.

    One of the navy characters is a diver with expertise in diving beneath sea ice. Is there anyone here with any experience/qualifications in this area or can point me to a good resource? I can certainly find descriptions of procedures online, but as I said earlier, I'm also interested in real life experiences and perceptions of actually doing these things.

    Also, any experiences of handling small boats in arctic or antarctic waters would be very interesting.

  17. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Do you intend to write any of the book yourself? Or is your intention to stitch together a number of dits from various sources and put your name to it?
  18. "Standby - give way together..."
  19. going on the trot/running away was called being Drafted? :lol: :biggrin:

    Poor Roddy!

    Remember that Keypusher, when your main character is homesick he doesn't run away from the Premier public school for ratings, but gets drafted! ;)
  20. My apologies if I've given the wrong impression about my motives. No, I'm not simply scavenging anecdotes. As someone who's never sailed in arctic waters or dived beneath the ice (and quite obviously has no knowledge of the navy beyond that which one can glean from texts), I thought information like that would be useful to help me get an accurate mental picture.

    BTW, only some of the characters are related to the navy, and only one of the main characters is in the navy. I'm not writing naval fiction. I'm writing a story that has some navy in it. I'm here because I'm a pedant and like to get the details right.

    I've just penned a sentence of dialogue in which an RAF pilot addresses a diver of Warrant Officer rank as "Warrant". Is that correct usage?


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