Welcome to my blog!

I'm a divorced mom with a teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. Writing is my first love. When I'm not writing or working or playing taxi to the kids, I also toy with photography and baking.

So, basically, my camera rarely sees the light of day and my mixer stands in the corner in permanent time-out.

To see some samples of my writing, you can check out my website: www.csrickard.com

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do you need to do research when writing fantasy?

I've read of the importance of research in many places and for many genres, but had naively assumed that I wouldn't need to do any when writing fantasy. I mean, I'm making everything up. Why do I need to research, right?


About a year after I first started writing, I realized that there were some things that I wasn't sure about. Yes, I'm making up the world, but I want it to be believable. The only way I can achieve that is to determine the natural laws of that world, which will be similar to ours in several ways, and then make sure I don't break any of them! In order to understand some of these laws, I need to do some research.

I'll be honest, science was definately not my forte in school, so I have no problem researching any time I want to double check a fact or better understand a relationship.

One of my research issues was related to weather and geography. I needed to better understand weather patterns, specifically precipitation, so that I could lay out the geography of my world realistically.

Additionally, one of the species in my novel is the tiger, but they aren't quite the same as tigers in this world. They look the same, orange with black stripes, however these creatures are sentient beings and can speak both verbally and telepathically. They are referred to as the 'warrior race' within their world. They have their own personalities, and naturally have a social structure and interpersonal skills that tigers in our world don't have. However, I still wanted to make sure that I didn't make them do something completely inconsistent within both worlds. I needed to better understand their behaviors in this world so that I could intelligently mimic or change those behaviors in their world. This particular subject brought me to the round of research I did over the weekend.

I'm fortunate to  have access to Big Cat Rescue, the world's largest accredited big cat rescue sanctuary. They are located about 45 minutes from my house. Their website has some wonderful information on tigers. They also provide guided tours of their facility. I still have several questions that I couldn't find answers to either on their website or several others that I searched, so I'm going to take a guided tour sometime this week. This will give me the opportunity to observe the tigers closer than I've ever done before as well as speak directly with a specialist of the species. I'm taking my camera along too. I love photographing wildlife and nature, this should be amazing!

Another example of research is geography and species compatibility. Are the species you're creating suited to live in the area in which you place them? With the tigers in my world, I had originally intended to have them live in the desert. However, after reading about them, I discovered that they actually live anywhere with dense vegetation. Can I change that in my world? Sure. Can I do it and make it believable...maybe. I think this comes down to necessity. Do my tigers need to live in the desert? Not really. However, now I have to find another place for them to live. If having a species live in the desert is a necessity to the story, then I would need to either make another species or alter my tigers  in such a way that they are equipped for desert life.

It all comes down to research and believability. Even in fantasy, you need to research your facts so that your world and it's creatures become real to your readers.

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