One thing many people don’t seem to think about… and, indeed, something many new writers don’t seem to think about… is just how much research can go into writing a novel. Research, many seem to believe, is reserved for non-fiction. But novels often require a ridiculous amount of research, too.
My novel, Wish You Were Here, is a sword & sorcery style fantasy. As such, most people wouldn’t think a lot of research had to go into it. And in truth, there wasn’t, compared to my later books. But one area of research that found its way into the book was herbology. All of the herbs mentioned in the book are real, and the uses depicted are, as well. The names I gave them, in many cases, are folk names for the actual herb.
One Nation Under God required me to become a lot more familiar with Constitutional law than I had been. It also allowed me to use research on my own personal interests in topics such as intentional community, alternative education, and more.
But all of that combined is nothing compared to the research for my new series, The Many Deaths of Dynamistress. Just a few of the topics I’ve been diving into: human genetics, synthetic biology, a number of cool inventions from DARPA, acoustic weaponry, zero-point energy, and more.
My attitude has always been that in fiction – even fantasy, sci-fi, or superhero fiction – the more we pay attention to real science, the better the finished product. And the more we disregard it, obviously, the weaker the finished product.
It doesn’t matter how unbelievable your topic is. If you back it up with solid research, you can make it believable. Never assume that because you’re writing “out there” fiction that you can’t bring it down to earth enough to be swallowed.