CHARACTERIZATION NOTES: Let’s Talk About Cobblestones…

When I was in the UK, I realized something that I’d like to share. You know all those stories where the heroine is fleeing down the cobblestone streets? Often running for her life?

Well, these are examples of cobblestones we found on our trip:


I had a hard time walking on them even in sneakers. A woman in any heel whatsoever would be reduced to slowly strolling if they wanted to keep their footing. If there was an emergency requiring a fast getaway, the character in question would be better off kicking off her shoes and running in stocking feet. It would hurt, but less than a broken ankle.

These aren’t even extreme cobbles. They have been worn down by time and travel. There are some great examples here on Wikipedia with full rounded tops.

The top picture and the last are more accurately setts, as they look like cut stones. They are slightly less difficult to walk on, but still could turn an ankle if a heel were placed wrong. Perhaps that’s why so many heroines in Gothic romance wind up being carried around so much. 😉

About RieSheridanRose

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2,  and Killing It Softly. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. She tweets as @RieSheridanRose.
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6 Responses to CHARACTERIZATION NOTES: Let’s Talk About Cobblestones…

  1. LOL. Way to get practical on us! But you make a great point, which is–do your research and get real! It’s a good way to breathe verisimilitude into a story. You mentioned heroines getting carried around a lot. The other cliche (being chased and they fall down, to add suspense) would make more sense if the writer sets us up with the basic nature of cobblestones to start with. Then it seems more like a natural result than a stupid cliche. Excellent note!


  2. Way to get practical on us! You bring up a great point, of course: we always need to do our research and keep practical reality in mind. Cobblestones not only provide a good reason why delicate ladies get carried around a lot (pity the guys–they don’t get carried as much), but they also provide an actually decent reason for the old cliche about how she’s running for her life and she falls down. Movies and TV are especially bad about this (a pet peeve of mine). Yes, I know it’s to add suspense, but it just makes her look clumsy and inept–unless the writer has set us up ahead of time with the nature of cobblestones, and maybe even her fear of falling on them (that would hurt!). Then, whether she falls or whether she manages not to, there’s added suspense.

    Anyway, thanks for a refreshing dose of reality, and a great opportunity to add verisimilitude to our writing!


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