Foraging for facts otherwise known as researching is vital to writing a good novel. I like to use the term foraging because when I do research I always feel as though I am feeding my mind. That way even if I do not find the answer that I was seeking, I feel there has been little lost in finding all the other fascinating information I stumbled across in the process.
I read a blog today, that argued, preparing to write a fantasy novel was easier than preparing to write a fiction or crime novel because fantasy writers do not need to research any of their material first. Oddly enough, this was just after I spent an hour learning about the drying process of wood, how to properly maintain wood and how long wood structures can feasibly last.
On a fascinating side note the oldest wooden structure is a temple in Japan dating back to 711 A.D. and arguments have been made that it may have been built even earlier.
Now back to my rant…
Research is incredibly important to all writers regardless of what genre they write in. I know my historical fiction writing friends have to spend more hours on research than I do but the point is that I still spend a bit of time researching.
Why was I researching wood today?
My novel takes place in a place that has been exposed to many years of dryness and limited light. There are no longer any trees and the plants are limited in this world but they still have some ancient wooden constructions left over from the time when wood wasn’t so limited. To make all this seem more believable to my readers, I needed to know more about how long dried wood lasts, wood preservation methods, etc. Since I am neither a carpenter or a botanist, research or fact foraging was crucial.
The key to writing a good fantasy novel is creating a world in which the reader feels is believable. That way they either want to be part of it and can see themselves as part of the action as they read or they want to avoid ever going to because it is just too horrible to face. A bit of research here or there helps to create that believable world.
What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a story?