As fiction readers and writers know, it’s important to keep things as accurate as possible in a book. Nothing throws a mystery fan off more when an author clearly knows little about firearms. The same is true for readers of historical fiction. They despise it when the author don’t know enough about the time period they’re writing in to get things right.
Of course, when you’re writing fantasy and creating different worlds, you set up your own rules and timelines, although even these still require a certain amount of logic and consistency. While writing my first urban fantasy, I’m learning that blending magical elements and religion into real settings and lifestyles are still important.
I’ve read a lot of fiction involving witches, werewolves, vampires, and so forth. Many of these stories incorporate a different twist on commonly held beliefs about rites, habits, needs, etc, which I imagine drives the purists nuts. As my Wicca instructor says, so many TV, movies, and books get it wrong about Wicca and witches, that it makes her cringe.
In my attempt to get things right, I signed up for a Wicca 101 course, which is being taught by a high priestess of the Wicca religion. I want to better understand what I’ll be writing about. The course won’t make me an expert, but it is a good foundation for further readings, meetings, and interviews down the road.
At this point in my first draft, I have no idea how much of what I learn will be incorporated into the book. Some writers write their story and then research what they need to know. But for me, to move this story along, I need to understand the basics so I can incorporate beliefs and practices from the get-go.
Research is not only important for credibility but there can be big benefits for authors personally. The most obvious is that your knowledge increases—never a bad thing, right? If you research thoroughly enough you could become an expert in a certain area and begin writing and speaking on that topic. This could lead to more networking, more publication credits, and more income.
The benefits of networking, interviewing experts, and volunteering in order to learn—not to mention helping others—could also garner interest in your book, adding names to your mailing list, and possibly gain new and unique outlets to sell your work.
Embrace the research and see where it takes you. The rewards could be more than you ever imagined.