Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writers Wednesday: Research

I think the first thing that comes to mind on this is... "All Hale George R.R. Martin!"

Okay, maybe not everyone feels that way.  I've only read his first book and was wowed by it.  There is so much depth, so much to every banner, every household.  So much that I didn't think of... back to the drawing board.

When writing fiction there are some basic backgrounds that need to be established.

The Main Character.  Where did they come from?  How did they get to be the way they are at the beginning of the book? What effects them the most positively and negatively?

The Supporting Characters.  Again, where did they come from? How did they get to be the way they are at the beginning of the book? What effects them the most positively and negatively?

The Land around them.  Yup even the land needs a history.  When writing Urban stories things are easier because the history was already made.  We know about what has happened in Boston in the year 1773, so the characters can mention it and the writer doesn't have to explain.  There is no... wait, they had a tea party and the British got angry... why.  Every one knows already.

If the land has an alternate time line than things may be different and harder to explain.

Then there is the conundrum of the new fantasy world created by the author.  New races, new lands, new history.

That's just fantasy, imagine what it would take to create a universe in Science Fiction? Parallel worlds? Whoa!

Everything has a basis of what we already know, however.  Such as a land has hills and mountains, planes and valleys.  The world could have kingdoms, or tribal communities.  Everything is based off of what we already know.  So when building a world do the research.  How are the rivers formed? How were the mountains formed? Who ruled when? Was there some kind of natural disaster that changed the face of the land? Was there some kind of disaster that was created by the races of the world?

Do the research and see what you discover.

You may not need to know all this for your world, but it will help you get closer to it.  You can learn how it works and see it's personality.

Here is an article I found on a history teachers view of the history of the fanatical worlds out there.  I thought it was interesting so I figured I'd share.

What do you find important when you create your world? Are there things that you think may not be needed? Do you think you do enough research? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you. 

Happy Writing


  1. I think you just gave my brain a mini seizure.

    Mostly,if I know it in my head and know it well, it comes out in the writing. When I don't know it in my head that's when I really run into trouble.

    Very good point about knowing where your character has come from--that can be huge in creating an awesome, layered character. :)

  2. Sorry about the mini seizure. Here's an ice pack for that. LOL Thanks for stopping by. I've learned that if you make the world just as living, with just as much personality as the characters it breathes it's own life to the book.

  3. I had TONS of problems with world-building for like 6 months, because I just didn't do it. I researched soo much about my characters and rules and laws, but not the world; that's why my 1st chapter had 12-15 completely different versions. Once I came back from critiques, I sat down, looked up pics of coral reefs (I have an underwater world) and just drew stuff and imagined. Then, it all worked out and I lovve my world now. It's quite fun, once you start doing it :)

    1. I love looking at landscapes that go with my MS. It pulls me in that much more. It's the best part of research. IMHO.

      Thanks for visiting SC.

  4. I remember hearing Carol Berg once say that she started her novels by imagining the landscape and worked backwards from there. Her first novel took place in the desert, and she thought her her main character should reflect that, so she researched nomadic tribes and came up with the person that became "Alexander."

    Not bad advice, I'd say. :-)

  5. I've done that. I've taken a photo, grew the world of it to beyond and added the characters after. Sometimes the setting itself is a character.