Recently, my writing buddy Janni Simner wrote a guest post on Cynsations about Researching Fantastical Fiction. One of the things that Janni wrote about in this post was the setting research that she did for her Bones of Faerie trilogy. The books are set in a post-apocalyptic Midwest. Janni had lived in the St. Louis area for something like 8 years and this was fantasy. That should be enough for the setting, yes? Not in Janni’s book. I still remember getting her messages. “What tree are already turning?” “What has leafed out?” Janni checked these details although her story isn’t set in the here and now.
Writing fantasy isn’t a short cut where research is concerned. I’ve had to research all kinds of things for fantasy stories:
- Herb lore
- How different predators make their kills and what signs they leave behind
- Wolf body language
- What colors various minerals turn when they burn
Sometimes the research that I do for my fantasy is more hands on because I need physical details.
- What does feel like to chop down a tree? How does the energy vibrate through your hands and up your arms?
- How does your body move when you do certain swimming strokes?
What you need to research for your fantasy will depend on the story itself. The details you have to explore may relate to setting, to your senses (taste, smell, feel), or how certain animals behave.
Take a good hard look at your fantasy story and consider the details you need to verify. If you don’t, someone will almost certainly call you on it. Is that the kind of e-mail you want to get from a young reader?