Monday, August 29, 2011

Believability and Research in Fantasy & Science Fiction

Please welcome GFW Writer member Mary Morgan, who is currently working on a Fantasy/Science Fiction novel with a unique perspective on research.

I'm someone passionate about research, even when it becomes an exhausting effort. Primarily I'm drawn to subject matters related to travel, ancient world history, mythology, animals, and mysteries of earth, time and space.

 Because there's no limit to information on the internet it's the first place I go, the second place is the library or a bookstore, third is a human source who may or may not have the knowledge I seek.

Believability is often something that writers lack an understanding of, most especially when it comes to fantasy and science fiction. There are important rules in world building that are essential to a creative story and if a writer doesn't take time to share reasoning as to why things are the way they are in their universe, it can be a serious turn off to readers.

The Twilight books and The Southern Vampires Mysteries are just two of the most popular series right now. However, depending on the reader's opinion, one has clever world building and character development, the other lacks detail yet still has a strong following. One is aimed toward teens and/or young adults, the other is aimed for adults. One is highly successful as a TV show, the other draws large audiences at the movie theatre.

It's true that not everyone will care about the importance of suspension of disbelief, some even find it annoying. But the results not only differ in the quality of a book, they differ in how the story flows.
I currently struggle with finding historic facts about traveling caravans during biblical times, or even before then. I've read how gladiators were either locked away in wagon cages and how slaves were occasionally made to walk alongside carts. But what about children? They were slaves too. So how did they travel? What was their treatment like? What happened if they were disobedient?
I haven't been successful in finding the detailed information I want and need. But  I've discovered a helpful link which has benefical information about the biblical era. I plan to continue my research for as long as it takes because I care about believability in stories. Even if my book is fiction, historical facts make it all the more interesting.
These are sites I found helpful.

What are your techniques for historical research? I'd love to hear how you approach research.

Mary Morgan

Mary is a professional voice over with a love of writing fiction. A few other interests include traveling, reading, Krav Maga, networking, photography, and video games. Every two months she contributes an article to Charisma + 2, a girl gaming e-zine and is the official blogger for the website. Sometimes a busy schedule prevents her from dedicating time to keeping up with her stories but she returns to them eventually and will finish them when she can, no matter how long it takes.


Anonymous said...

Interesting ideas on research. Have you thought of this website. The moderator is Holly Tucker and she is a history professor at Vanderbilt. a history

Marlena Cassidy said...

Research is incredibly important for all writing, and I think that's something we forget at times. Do you ever make lists of the details of your worlds so that you don't forget what you're doing?

Mary said...

I had not heard of Wonder and Marvels but I will explore the website.

Marlena, I do indeed keep lists of details, or rather notebooks of information. I even keep folders of magazine pictures, articles, trivia, as well as pages and pages of historical facts that I've collected over the years.

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for posting such useful information. I create novel research files for whatever I'm researching.If I don't I can spend hours looking for what ever I've saved.

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