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t0dd
06-21-2019, 05:29 PM
I'm writing a MG fantasy which features a large beaver-like creature as a supporting character, and would like some advice.

The MC is a young boy who's gone back in time to early medieval Wales with a talking squirrel who serves as his mentor (long story), and is trying to get back to his own time. Unfortunately, the path to the "doorway home" is blocked by a rising stream or river in flood; the flood turns out to be caused by a giant beaver-like creature building a dam. (While it looks like a giant beaver, it's actually a creature from the Welsh Otherworld called an "addanc" - an actual mythical Welsh water-creature which has been linked to beavers - which entered this part of Wales, fleeing trouble back home, and decided to settle here. Its main differences with real-life beavers are its size and it can speak, though with a simple vocabulary. Apart from that, I'd like its physical appearance and habits to be as close to real-world beavers as I can manage.)

The boy and the squirrel meet with the addanc, in an attempt to persuade it to build its dam somewhere else (not only because the rising water level from its dam serves as an obstacle to them, but also because it threatens to flood the area) - with some difficulty; the addanc is stubborn for a while about this being the place where it wants to live. (It isn't hostile towards the humans who'd be flooded out, but sees that as "not my problem".) My idea was that they'd finally discover a suitable large pond or lake for it, close enough for it to travel to, and persuade it to relocate there.

The addanc, by the way, is single - no mate or offspring.

To anyone here who's an expert on beavers, how well does this work? I'd welcome your ideas and support in developing this part of the story.

jclarkdawe
06-22-2019, 12:36 AM
First problem I had in reading this is the dam. I've used beaver dams to cross streams quite a bit. A bit slow in walking, but usually would keep my feet reasonably dry. Often a beaver dam is the best way to deal with streams in the wilderness. Alternatively, the beaver dam will frequently reduce the flow rate of the stream making it easier to cross the stream right below the dam.

In other words, a beaver dam would not be viewed as much of an obstacle as a benefit.

Crossing water in the wilderness is often simply a matter of how wet do you want to be on the other side. Rapids rarely continue forever and can be shallower water, you can always use a log as a paddle board if you can't swim, and primitive travelers didn't really worry about rivers. Worst case you went up or down stream a bit and find a decent crossing. Rarely will this take more than 10 miles.

Beavers, when they reach maturity, are kicked out of the house if the pond has reached capacity of beavers. The beavers will travel considerable distance trying to find a good home. To me it is unlikely that the addanc wouldn't have found the other water in his travels if they're nearby.

Jim Clark-Dawe

WeaselFire
06-22-2019, 02:00 AM
You found the beaver building the dam, walk downstream around the flooded area. Also, beaver dams don't create rushing flood waters, just a gentle rise in water level. Rushing doesn't happen until the dam is broken. Pay the beaver to swim you across the flooded area.

Jeff

frimble3
06-22-2019, 02:04 AM
I believe there's more to a beaver dam than just blocking water. The point of blocking the water is twofold:
1) the dam is built to protect the beaver lodge, which is built in the middle of the area to be flooded, thus providing a moated dwelling with an underwater entrance. This would be easier to start if the water level was lower, and gradually increased.
2) beavers gnaw trees, for food and building material, and it's easier to get trees within reach of the nice, safe water and lodge if the beavers flood up into the trees, so they can just swim in among the trees, or at least drop them into the water.

So more goes into choosing a site than just spotting a body of water.

t0dd
06-22-2019, 04:10 AM
Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

After reading your remarks, I've concluded that my concept doesn't work so well for this story, and so will be abandoning the addanc-dam in favor of a different adventure (once I can figure out what it is).

jclarkdawe
06-22-2019, 04:54 AM
As this is fantasy, some modifications could make this work.

If your addanc's are huge, say 2,000 pounds, and capable of blocking more significant waterways, you could make this work. Imagine several addanc's, working together, decided to dam the Missouri. And adding onto their dam over the years, making a lake a hundred miles long or longer, with no fords above or below the lake. (Think man-made flood control dams here and the lakes they create.)

In a fantasy, you have some control over this type of thing and don't need to be as realistic. You need to remember the real world problems, like why you can't go around the lake, but you are allowed to create fantasy animals that can accomplish what you need.

Here's a good video on beavers building a dam -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuMRDZbrdXc

Now imagine the beavers moving 70 foot tall trees to go onto the dam. It would be like watching one of these massive skidders dragging a tree out of the forest.

Jim Clark-Dawe

t0dd
06-22-2019, 05:14 AM
As this is fantasy, some modifications could make this work.

If your addanc's are huge, say 2,000 pounds, and capable of blocking more significant waterways, you could make this work. Imagine several addanc's, working together, decided to dam the Missouri. And adding onto their dam over the years, making a lake a hundred miles long or longer, with no fords above or below the lake. (Think man-made flood control dams here and the lakes they create.)

In a fantasy, you have some control over this type of thing and don't need to be as realistic. You need to remember the real world problems, like why you can't go around the lake, but you are allowed to create fantasy animals that can accomplish what you need.

Here's a good video on beavers building a dam -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuMRDZbrdXc

Now imagine the beavers moving 70 foot tall trees to go onto the dam. It would be like watching one of these massive skidders dragging a tree out of the forest.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Thanks for your comments. I might have allowed myself to get too easily discouraged - and the addanc is indeed more a beaver-like creature than a true beaver.

But the "why they don't go around it" is still a problem that I can't work out.

AwP_writer
06-22-2019, 06:28 AM
Because...


(not only because the rising water level from its dam serves as an obstacle to them, but also because it threatens to flood the area)

It could actually serve as a test of your MCs character. Does he convince the creature to undo the dam even though it will make his own journey harder, or does he use the ease the dam gives at the cost of the locals losing their land?

t0dd
06-22-2019, 06:34 AM
Because...



It could actually serve as a test of your MCs character. Does he convince the creature to undo the dam even though it will make his own journey harder, or does he use the ease the dam gives at the cost of the locals losing their land?

That's a good point - which I hadn't thought of before. Thank you.

jclarkdawe
06-22-2019, 04:33 PM
But the "why they don't go around it" is still a problem that I can't work out.

There's a lot of difference between crossing a stream and crossing a river. Beavers dam streams. A giant addanc could take on a river, which is already a major obstruction. Swimming a river requires that the current be slow enough that it doesn't take you too far down river. Quicksand, depth and width of the river, speed of current, steepness of banks are just some of the obstacles in crossing a river. Even boats can't cross rivers everywhere. You have to pick and choose your location.

Take Lake Mead as a good example. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Mead I'm thinking that Lake Mead was what you were imagining as a beaver pond. So you can cross Lake Mead with a boat, but not if angry addancs threaten to sink you. Now go up and down the Colorado and figure out where you can make a crossing. Remember that each day's travel up or down the river requires food. Now food has a certain weight. And a human can only carry a certain amount of weight. Remember that you also need to allow for your travel once you cross the Colorado.

Of course, you could add a pack horse to carry more food, but that increases your problems in crossing the Colorado, as well as your travel speed and food supplies.

It's the problems in writing that make someone into a good writer.

Jim Clark-Dawe

t0dd
06-22-2019, 04:38 PM
Thanks for the help, but I've decided, after much thought, to drop this idea and look for something else to replace it in my book. At least I got to learn more about beavers in the process.

frimble3
06-23-2019, 07:30 AM
I think we may have got off-track with the dam-building. Re-reading the OP, isn't the real problem that the rising water is about to flood your MC's route home?
And, what is that 'doorway', a cave, a place that must be reached, or whatever? Because if the need can't be fixed by walking around the flooded area, maybe a giant beaver could still be included?
Say the way back involves a specific spot at the base of the mountain - if the rising water has blocked the path, perhaps the addac could give the MC etc a ride, and act as a platform while they knock 3 times, or whatever. Of course, there might be a price to pay. Or, the way back is at the bottom of a pit or cave, and your characters have to beg the addac to stop before it's flooded. Or, the plug has to be pulled at the bottom of the pre-existing body of water and only the addac can do it, but it would slow the addac's big project?
If you want a giant beaver-like creature, we can help.

t0dd
06-23-2019, 04:30 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, but I'd decided to drop that adventure for other reasons besides the discovery that the scenario I'd constructed with the rising water wasn't accurate. (One reason was that the story was set in southern Wales, and further research I'd done on the addanc legends revealed that they were set in northern Wales.)

TheListener
06-23-2019, 06:38 PM
I'm writing a MG fantasy which features a large beaver-like creature as a supporting character, and would like some advice.

The MC is a young boy who's gone back in time to early medieval Wales with a talking squirrel who serves as his mentor (long story), and is trying to get back to his own time. Unfortunately, the path to the "doorway home" is blocked by a rising stream or river in flood; the flood turns out to be caused by a giant beaver-like creature building a dam. (While it looks like a giant beaver, it's actually a creature from the Welsh Otherworld called an "addanc" - an actual mythical Welsh water-creature which has been linked to beavers - which entered this part of Wales, fleeing trouble back home, and decided to settle here. Its main differences with real-life beavers are its size and it can speak, though with a simple vocabulary. Apart from that, I'd like its physical appearance and habits to be as close to real-world beavers as I can manage.)

The boy and the squirrel meet with the addanc, in an attempt to persuade it to build its dam somewhere else (not only because the rising water level from its dam serves as an obstacle to them, but also because it threatens to flood the area) - with some difficulty; the addanc is stubborn for a while about this being the place where it wants to live. (It isn't hostile towards the humans who'd be flooded out, but sees that as "not my problem".) My idea was that they'd finally discover a suitable large pond or lake for it, close enough for it to travel to, and persuade it to relocate there.

The addanc, by the way, is single - no mate or offspring.

To anyone here who's an expert on beavers, how well does this work? I'd welcome your ideas and support in developing this part of the story.

It has been described as many things: A giant beaver, crocodile, a dwarf, or a demon. It kills and devours anything that enters its waters and has been called by many names: adanc, addanc, addane, abhac, avanc, and abac.

Thinking that it is a proper beaver with normal beaver tendencies is probably not what the creature in mythology really is. But if you are going with something cuddly, then I guess beaver would be your best bet. Although the killing and devouring part may be hard to get around. I also don't think you could just ask it to relocate to another pond.

More info here: https://www.revolvy.com/page/Afanc

You may want to refer to it as something else if you want to keep the somewhat cuddly large beaver as a character. Sounds like an interesting story. Hope you post some for critique when you have some of it done.

TheListener
06-23-2019, 06:43 PM
Thanks for your comments. I might have allowed myself to get too easily discouraged - and the addanc is indeed more a beaver-like creature than a true beaver.

But the "why they don't go around it" is still a problem that I can't work out.

If you look at the true Addanc, then you will find it lives in a lake but doesn't build a dam. Maybe the boy needs to cross that lake and there in lays the problem. To get across the lake without being eaten or take days to go around.

TheListener
06-23-2019, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, but I'd decided to drop that adventure for other reasons besides the discovery that the scenario I'd constructed with the rising water wasn't accurate. (One reason was that the story was set in southern Wales, and further research I'd done on the addanc legends revealed that they were set in northern Wales.)

The legend also puts them in the Brecon Beacons so don't give up hope just yet. They were also said to have raised the water level in Britain killing everyone except two: Dwyfan and Dwyfach.

t0dd
06-24-2019, 03:47 AM
Thanks for your remarks. I've been having some fresh thoughts about the middle part of the book, which might not make the originally-planned addanc scene fit in so well any more anyway, but I appreciate your help.

DrDoc
06-29-2019, 12:09 PM
The creature you speak of, Yr Afanc, demands permission before it will allow you to enter its lake. This could be a cue as to its initial demeanor in your story.

regards,
DrDoc