Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Research, Research, Research

Don’t you hate it when you do light research for your epic novel and then read another novel and find out that your first research wasn’t quit complete?

I read a few articles on Wikipedia on my topic (too secret to divulge here) and thought I understood the issues enough to create a fantasy world. I’ve spent months on world building and creating this amazing society on just a few facts. Oh how foolish and naïve am I?

I’ve been reading a historical fiction on my undisclosed topic and realized that I totally misunderstood who the players really were. I always thought there were two races, but no, there are actually three. Which throws all my genius off. All of my cool hooks no longer work. Some of the characters will have to change races, which will ruin everything.

I could go ahead and write my story with only the two races, since it is a fantasy and no one would really know. However, I know! I know that I am now a farce and a sham.

The good thing is that now some of the weaker points of the story now have a focus. Some of the things I was trying to accomplish just didn’t work before and now they do. Now I have my strong antagonist. Now I have my divided house. I just have to go back and figure out what race some of my characters are. It takes away some of the fun “aha!” moments, but it makes for a more solid, and less contrived, story.

I guess that may be why I’ve suffered with such bad writers block—I didn’t understand the whole realm of my story. I’ve decided that I need to do more research before I start writing full force. I've got to see if there is more to the story that I haven't unearthed yet.

So my lesson for Wednesday is this: When creating a world, do your research thoroughly. Don’t just rely on an article or two. Dive deep and you’ll be amazed at what you find. All that research may never end up on in print, but the layers and depth will be apparent.


  1. Yay! You got it to post! Good advice, btw. I'll keep that in mind. :)

  2. That's absolutely good advice, and I've heard a lot of authors say that. BUT, there is one thing I want to throw out there and see what you guys think:

    What if you can work something into your story that makes that third race nonexistent or irrelevant? I mean if you've put all this work into a story with hooks and twists and they're really great, you'll want to save those great things about them and either find a new way to write that same book, or find a way to write all those cool hooks in another book. Does that make sense?

    "Everything is grist for the mill." --Louis L'Amour

  3. Research is one of the things I love and hate the most. I get all caught up in it when I do it (distracted from writing time) and when I have a lack of it, I'm unable to write. *Sigh* Tough edge to walk, huh?

  4. I've got to figure out a way to use the cool twists, I just haven't figured it out yet. There may just be a few less illigitimate children. But that's ok.

    I still haven't decided if I'm going to throw in the third race. It's a solid story without them, but it gives me the ability to unite the other races. hmmmmm the fun of writing. :)

  5. Darn research ruins everything. I'm with Graham, since it's fantasy, just make up your own rules so your cool twists work.