Research and Revelation

I know, I know. I say this all the time.

Writing is one part thinking, one part writing, and three parts erasing everything you’ve written that day and starting over.

Yes, it is irritating, why do you ask?

But it’s also two parts research, even for fantasy novels. Maybe especially for fantasy novels.

In fact, I’ve had to do an awful lot of background reading for what are, essentially, adult fairy tales.

And that surprised the heck out of someone I was chatting to in IM the other day, because she couldn’t understand why that would be.

“Aren’t you just making everything up?”

No. I’m making up the plot (pretty much as I go, which apparently breaks a lot of other writers’ rules) but the details? They have to feel real. They have to be convincing. Nothing is so annoying for a reader to be following along, disbelief utterly suspended, and to suddenly hit a wall of insurmountable bullshit, that stops them in their tracks and makes them say “Hey! Hold on – magnetism doesn’t work like that!”

I cannot count the number of books that have suddenly broken the laws of physics or history or economics for no apparent reason other than that the writer couldn’t be bothered looking up who was the king of France in 1470, how long it takes to weave cloth on a human-powered loom, or at what temperature alcohol freezes at.

These days, if it occurs early enough into the reading sample on line, it’s a book I don’t buy.

Don’t toy with me, author. If you can’t be bothered doing the reading, well, neither can I.

So, yeah. I’m doing a lot of research for this new book.

And if you’ve ever sailed a Norse faering, I need to talk to you.


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