So, in Theft of an Idol (Isis3), Tetisheri discovers a body in the desert.

I’m from the Arctic myself. I have a very rudimentary notion of how bodies decay (or don’t) in the cold, and no notion at all of what happens if they are left out in the Sahara. This requires some research. Google, all hands on deck!

From the National Library of Medicine, one of the first ten hits on the search:

Remains can retain a fresh appearance for a considerable time in the winter, but the onset of marked decomposition is rapid in the summer months.

Okay. It’s October (or Tybi, or Dystros, or Peret, depending on how you tell time in Alexandria in 47BC). And, naturally, I would set the scene at a time of year when everything is up in the air–is it a late summer with continuing high temperatures? Is it an early winter and already below freezing at night?

For plot reasons, I don’t want the body to be personally identifiable, but I do want Tetisheri to be able to discern gender and occupation, and it would help if she could tell if he was local.

This is what #thewritinglife is like, looking up decay rates for the human body at various latitudes and figuring how much to let rot, or not. Yep, we writers are definitely in it for the glamour, the limos, the champagne, the bright lights, the roaring crowds.

We also lie for a living. Never forget that.

Rabbit holes:
Decay rates of human remains in an arid environment
Decay rates in a cold climate region
Welcome to the Body Farm | National Geographic

Chatter Eye of Isis Writing

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

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