A few points on research


Many people would think that writing High Fantasy would not require research… that it is all just made up; invented, if you like.
But this is not the case…!
High Fantasy has a great world-wide following, and because of this it is actually more important to get the facts right than in any other genre.
So what does this actually mean?
… Well, there are certain intrinsic values embedded within the High Fantasy genre which must always be adhered to, e.g: good v evil, mythical creatures, magic, world-building, and several other significant matters.
So why are these things important?
The answer is simple. There are many fans of High Fantasy out there who would baulk at the idea of a badly researched tale.
Mythical creatures, for example, must seem to appear real. This means that the author must be on familiar terms with such things as: the fae folk, trolls, spirits, and of course dragons. It would be no use writing about a great drake without first knowing how they would move, eat, hunt, and even speak. All of this means reading and absorbing the subject matter ( writen by so many others over the years ) then puting your own unique spin on it
Then we come to world-building.
Unlike normal fiction which is predominately based on earth, most High Fantasy tales are acted out on some imaginary world. Once again this must have a “real” feel about it. Towns and cities must have a reasonable population, with proper marketing and trade. The construction of buildings must be consistant with available local materials, eg: if there are huge forests about then most houses would be of a wooden construction. Depending on the technical advancement of the world they may have used bricks and have proper slate on the roofs instead of thatch. So here it is wise to work out the equivolent era on earth and research the types of buildings that were around at that time. Distances between towns, and even diferent realms, must be worked out, along with a road/track network, as it will become apparent very quickly that your characters will be travelling to these places. Travelling times are also important; whether by foot, on horseback, or on a winged horse, which means you will need to know how easy each route will be, and if there are any obsticles that might add a day or two on to the journey.
And finally i come to the magic.
High Fantasy is usually full of magic users of some kind, whether they be the ubiquitous wizard, or a shaman, or a druid. But again, no matter what kind of magic is used it is important to do some research to make sure that what you write is going to sound as if it can really happen.
And that, of course, is the real trick with High Fantasy… making it seem real ! ! !


Filed under Adventure, Fantasy books, reading, sword and sorcery books, Uncategorized, writing

30 responses to “A few points on research

  1. Yes, it is creating the illusion of reality which is the trick, and those careful little details are like the conjurers sleight of hand. They mean that people somehow overlook the fact that everything is really made up.

  2. This is a great post and absolutely true. In fact, my research, or lack of it, is one of the main reasons I make up all the creatures in my books, from scratch. If I write a book with ‘proper’ mythical creatures in it I can imagine I will spend the rest of my days receiving irate e-mails from people who know more about the mythical creatures in question than I do, telling me I’ve done it wrong! 😉



  3. thesilentblade

    Ah, MTM, your work is unique. You have no need to dable in the “real” myths, when you have great invention of your own. Best that we all stick to what we do best. Saddly i am stuck with such wonderful creatures as dragons, trolls, elves etc. And as such i must get things right. You, however, have created something new… there is no-one alive on this world that can question that ?

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