I’m an idea pack-rat. Sometimes I find something in a conversation or in a book that interests me so much that I must write it down. Notes are scattered across my desk, my computer, and phone. I even have a drawer dedicated to miscellaneous paper. While some of these preserved ideas are merely personal, others I keep because I know I can use them in a story. It is, in a way, research in advance. I’ll show you what I mean.
Here we have the great crested dragon of the Tiradian desert. It may not have the most impressive aerodynamics, acting more like a glider, but of all the desert dragons this one is the largest, with a wingspan of 30-50 feet. Perhaps some of you recognise this magnificent animal. In which case I’ll admit it—the great crested dragon is actually the quetzalcoatlus, with a fantasy twist. I came across the quetzalcoatlus one day while amusing myself with some random article browsing. My first thought was ‘what a terrifying beast, I’m glad I don’t have to meet it in real life’. My second thought was ‘what a fascinating beast, I’m sad I don’t meet it in fiction’. I figured a creature so big and so strange had to have a fantastic story attached to it somehow, and someday I would write that story.
Everything that I listen to, watch, and read has potential as story research. This is more than just a way to make my fantasy world more interesting—as real in the reader’s head as it is in mine by adding familiar and careful details. I’m also able to exhibit the wonder I have for this world, by imitating what catches my imagination. With this in mind, I’m kept on the wide-eyed lookout for more wonders to share.
Research doesn’t always have to be that tedious thing one has to do to keep up a reader’s belief. I consider it an engaging spark that ignites the story.