I have always been fond of linguistics.
A few years ago, I tried to teach myself to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, because, well, why not? I still kind of want to do that, but there aren't many reliable resources online, and I am definitely the sort of person who learns better with a teacher. Unfortunately, there aren't many people teaching ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that don't also come with a (typically expensive) degree-granting institution.
So I will file that away as a "someday" dream and focus on something else instead. Like other ancient languages.
My current/ brand new WIP is a story set in ancient times in northern Italy. And it has to be set there, for a very good reason, I assure you. But the problem is that northern Italy's ancient (and I mean ANCIENT) history isn't very well known. The stone age in the north just wasn't as well-preserved as that of England, or Ireland, or even Crete or France. There isn't a whole lot of info there.
I wrote two pages on this story and then stopped when I realized that I didn't even know what to call my characters. Stone Age names aren't exactly common, you know. And it's not like Bob or Sue would work.
Therefore, I've been spending the last month, since I got said Shiny New Idea, researching. Because the Stone Age is not my general strong point when it comes to history. And I love nothing if not a challenge.
Last night, after some digging around in the (very, very few) resources online, I stumbled across the answer-- a basic linguistic dictionary for the Stone Age. And voila, another couple of hours later, I had names.
Such a small thing, to name a character. I know some writers put a lot of thought into their names. I never really have. They are simply who they come to me as. If they feel like a Ryan, or a James, or a Margie, they will be one. This is by far and away not only the most thought I've put into a handful of names, but the most time and effort, as well. But I actually had fun doing it, because of how much I love language. It was fun to piece together their names, load them with meaning that likely I will ever only know, and finally bring them to life within the pages of my Word doc.
And that is how I am approaching this book. Effort, yes, but also learning about a gap in my knowledge. And who knows, it might even be worth it!
Okay, okay-- it's always worth it to let the story unfold.
How far have you reached to learn something for your writing?