There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Don’t Be A Lazy Pants (or is it breeches?). Research Your Fantasy Novel. March 27, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 12:00 pm
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Hello Readers! I’m a new member of There And Draft Again and this is my first post. Woot! Thank you, ladies, for inviting me to join.

Inspiration for my subject came in the form of a tweet some months back. A reader mentioned being pulled from a story because the character wore in an item of clothing clearly not part of the era in which the story took place. While this was probably his-fic, the same can happen in fantasy.

This is NOT a good thing. We don’t want our readers pulled from our story for ANY reason, save that of an alien invasion. This is why fact gathering and research is so important, even when creating our magical realms.

Clothing’s not the only thing you need to get right. Weapons, food (your characters don’t need to eat fish if they live on a desert world like DUNE), livestock, building materials, etc. Aside from this, you’ve got religion, language, symbolism, and even science. Here’s an example:

In my YA fantasy novel, A SONG IN WINTER, air is the element of winter. Now, I’ve studied the classical elements of Greek philosophy, so my brain rebelled at this, saying, “Wait just a second. Winter’s element is water. You know this, so fix it. NOW.”

But I couldn’t change it because my story needed air. Happily, my muse intervened and reassured me I could keep things as they were. What made this possible was further research regarding the ancient classifications, then using that knowledge to create my own classification. And I had to do it convincingly. If I didn’t, if my readers didn’t wholly believe this new invented logic, then those aware of such things would be pulled from my story, never to return again.

Other research included reading myths from many cultures (so I could change them) and studying weapons and battle tactics–THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu is excellent. Then there were phrases in Italian, ancient burial mounds, alchemy, flowers that grow in the mountains…

All this research for fantasy might seem crazy, but if you take the time to do it, it’ll transform your make-believe story into something real. And your readers will thank you for it.

Happy researching! Kate


One Response to “Don’t Be A Lazy Pants (or is it breeches?). Research Your Fantasy Novel.”

  1. deshipley Says:

    Welcome aboard, Kate! Looking forward to hearing from you in future. (:

    Ah, research — a case of a stitch in time saving nine. …Unless you want to hinge your entire novel on a plot point that doesn’t pass muster, in which case, by all means, forge ahead, have fun with that!

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