Research – The Essential Ingredient
After I create my stories, I begin the mammoth task of researching; making sure that all the content in my story is correct and gaining material to expand on topics where I lacked the knowledge. I find research to be vital, adding authenticity and correctness to a story.
My Thoughtmover series needed an incredible amount of research that I had done on everything from types of landscapes, modes of transportation, suitable weapons, appropriate fashion, and the list goes on. I even researched the names of characters, places, and things in the story, to pick names that were fitting to their role.
For me, research is more than getting information from a book or retrieving it from the Internet–that I learned the hard way is not always correct–but to obtain the information from people who hold personal knowledge and experiences in that area, people who have ‘been there and done that’. Even in fantasy, content must be depicted as real and accurate as possible.
For The Alkahest, an area that required research was tall ships. Lacking personal nautical experience, I met up with a sailor, who was kind enough to share his experiences with me on tall ships, information that is not easily obtainable elsewhere. This type of personal information includes unique feelings and thoughts that arise on board and how the senses are touched by actions or events that occur on these ships.
I use this personal information to create conditions on a ship that allow the reader to feel as if they are riding aboard that ship, experiencing the life and challenges of the characters. I think a writer’s greatest accomplishment is when he or she can take their readers and put them into the world of the story, to travel with the characters on their journey.
Researching for my books is one of my favorite tasks in writing next to the creation of my stories. It has not only given me knowledge in areas where it lacked, but it has allowed me to meet wonderful and skilled people that have made my life richer and my stories better.