Tuesday, November 16, 2021

How I Research for a Fantasy Story

Researching for a fantasy story sounds weird, right? It's not like I can pop over to the farmer's market and find a local Fae to double-check my world-building. I don't have a friendly neighborhood vampire or troll to phone up either. What I do have is mythology.

Peruse Some Mythology:

I think, oftentimes, we forget, or maybe it's just me, that we have hundreds of years of stories to pull ideas from. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, so much as we get to add our own imagination to the pot. 

When I sat down to work on The Curse Breaker, my debut novel, I pulled an old Irish folktale anthology off my shelf (one of those in-the-moment purchases that I couldn't bear to part with and vowed I would read one day) and perused it. I didn't make it through too many stories into that collection before I found the story that served as my foundational novel idea. 

I have done the same for other stories of mine as well. I've pulled mythology details from Korean and Japanese stories, Greek and Roman, as well as Scandinavian literature. There's seriously a treasure trove out there if you don't mind getting a little lost in the countless amazing stories that have been passed down over the ages. 

Google Image Search What World You Have in Mind:

Once you've got a pocket full of neat ideas, it's time to move forward in your story universe. The next step, for me, is to go search for some nifty images on the internet. 

You can also tag in Pinterest or Pixabay (which is a free image site and where this post's photo came from). I'm sure that there are dozens more that are just as great. 

Artists have such a fabulous way of taking dreams and turning them into something living and breathing; something shareable. I often look to artwork for world-building detail inspiration. Plus, this serves as an excellent way to actively work on your story on the days the words just won't come out. 

Add Your Own Spice to the Mix:

Inspiration is great, and there is lots of it. But the very best part of any story is what you, my lovely writer friend, add to it. 

There's no one else who can build a story like you. No other writer has the same voice or style as you. So use all the things that make you fabulous (of which there is a lot) and sprinkle it all over those foundational ideas.  

Just as it is the artist's heart that adds magic to their painting or sketch, it's your emotion that adds heart to the story you're writing.


Diane Burton said...

Great post, April. Rick Riordan did that starting with his Percy Jackson series. What a great way for kids to learn Greek mythology. Same with the Egyptian and Norse myths. Like you, I have books on Irish mythology. I never heard of Pixabay. I'll have to check out that site. I've used Pinterest for sci-fi ideas. Oh, my. The artists come up with the most amazing pictures of what futuristic cities (and starships) could look like. Any of us could view those pictures and come up with totally different stories.

Mary Morgan said...

What a beautiful post, April! I love mythology, specifically Celtic and Norse. I"m always learning a new tidbit and weaving my own spin into my stories. Thanks for sharing!