The ‘R’ Word

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now but never had the time. Now that I do let’s talk about why I wanted to write paranormal fantasy fiction. I don’t like doing the ‘R’ word. What’s the ‘R’ word you ask? Research. I hate it with everything in me. I do enough research for term papers so with my leisurely writing I didn’t want to have to make sure I was politically correct about what was going on in my story. So I made up a lot of the words and spells and the idea was formed and without a bit of research. Even for the city because I never really talk about the city at all. It’s just for gee whiz information. I let my audience decided what the city life is about based on their own knowledge. Nothing really takes place at a certain shop or club anyway. So I was all ‘middle finger to the world’ about research. The characters aren’t real or human so I had carte blanche with their abilities, ages, and so on.

Now I said all that to say this…I was wrong! Yep, I’m admitting it. I’m soooo wrong. I thought sticking to a genre where the characters were species that didn’t exist in the world wouldn’t require any former knowledge. Then I had this book idea and realized I would have to at least know some basic mythologies and characteristics just for my general knowing. Yes I will still be taking huge liberties with my own mythology of the characters but some of the stuff would have really seemed like gibberish without at least some plausibility. Now I know were-creatures, elves, and the like don’t really exist but there have been enough information on them that people have a general idea of what they should or shouldn’t be capable of. Like I said I will definitely be putting my own spin on these species so it’s not the same old song and dance but at least now I’m more aware of general characteristics.

I still strongly hate research of any kind when writing for fun. It feels too much like work to me but in order to bring the best story I can think of to my readers, I’ll bite the bullet and try to pretend that I somewhat know what I’m talking about 🙂

9 thoughts on “The ‘R’ Word”

  1. Just a little something to think about in terms of keeping perspective when you’re working on creating your own mythos—consider it a motivational speech from a fangirl:

    There’s a difference between writing for fun and writing professionally. You can go on any roleplay, creative writing, or fanfiction platform anywhere and post anything you want with absolutely no research whatsoever and the worst you’re going to get will be a few snide comments from “serious” contributors to the site. (Yes, this kind of elitism exists in free platforms. If you don’t believe me? Post a piece of unedited tripe to AO3 with tags for the most popular Harry Potter characters to attract attention and give it an hour. You’d be AMAZED at the responses you can get from “serious” contributors.) If you expect to write whatever you feel like and then ask someone to PAY YOU for it?

    You have to either research or invest enough of your own mythos into it that people aren’t immediately demanding their money back or leaving crap reviews that tank your career before you even get started.

    I’m oddly amused at your logic was “Well, these species don’t exist so who cares?!” when literally the most lucrative fictional endeavors in history are excruciatingly, beautifully detailed accounts. Those include Harry Potter (which Jo Rowling spent years working on and actually has thousands of pages of backstory, theories, spells, histories, etc that she has not done anything with except keep around for her own edification “just in case”), Star Wars (whose EU -extended universe- has at least two dozen ENCYCLOPEDIAS filled with species details, weapons, star charts, vehicles, ships, and the list goes on and on), and Lord of the Rings which Tolkien created his own LANGUAGE for…an entire language. That was a guy who didn’t play around. Heck, I’m not even going there with Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Trekkies are serious business. I still think that Potterverse has the scariest fanbase, but the real Trekkies? They’ll eat someone alive for getting minuscule details wrong.

    I know this because I’m a fangirl. I’m that fan who literally writes letters filled with scathing commentary, righteous indignation, and bitter disappointment when someone messes up the continuity of my fandom. I was in that list that wrote letters and staged hysterical fits of protests because there was a comic adaptation of Supernatural called “Origins” where they changed the back story of John Winchester obtaining the Impala which does play a central role in the series.

    How insane can fans get? Well, we got them to change the canon content post-publication and issue a formal apology.

    When it was released in graphic novel format? It had been amended.

    Why do I say all this when I get it, you’re going to create your own world, you get it, you know that research matters even in fantastical scenarios?

    It’s simple really: you WANT insane fans.

    No. Really. You WANT people to be so passionate about your work, your world, your creations, your thoughts, your theories, your books and stories and even character bios that they will write CRAZY RANTS if something is done in a contradictory matter to what canon YOU have established.

    Being a part of that kind of passion? That’s what makes a book into a fandom.

    Books can be successful.

    Fandoms can become empires and if it’s your fandom? You can be an empress.

    Don’t sell yourself short, lady. Don’t write books: build empires.

    It’s worth the effort to become someone’s passionate obsession.

    I’ll tell you a funny secret about my definition of true success as an author. For me? It’s not getting on the NYT Best Seller List or USA Today or Amazon or whatever retailer of choice you want to name. It’s not about winning a Pulitzer. It’s not about any award or public lauding. It’s about writing a COMPANION NOVEL to your series that has nothing more than details, excerpts, character profiles, a dictionary, maps, and other intricacies of that ilk and making me passionate enough about your series to NEED to read it. I read The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide for JR Ward’s series and wept real tears over it because I was so moved by this world she’d created. I read a supposed “modern classic” work of literature by someone who DID win The Pulitzer for this work and my only thought was “That was several hours of my life I’ll never get back…”

    It’s worth it. Crazies like me who will read everything about a series if it’s done well enough? Who’ll buy special editions for ridiculous amounts of money because they have some random extras at the end? Who’ll stay awake until 3 AM in their time zone to get the book that they’ve pre-ordered as soon as the button became available? We’re worth it.

    We’re worth it because, in addition to a dedicated source of revenue, we’ll become those people who understand that characters can be more than two-dimensional word-sketches on a page. We know how to love them as much as you do. We know how much more than fiction they are and that’s Mastercard right there. It’s priceless.

    Build an empire and you’ll find a family you get to make yourself because real fans are forever.

    1. You know what I never thought about it like that. I’ve read insider guides as well. The JR ward and Kim Harrison ones and loved them. I understand completely what you are saying. I just thought I would never be that invested him my stories but I’m finding that my perspective is changing and I’m so deeply involved and in love with my characters that I want the world to feel the same. Thank you for taking the time out to write a book on my page 🙂 <3. It honestly started out as something I did just to say I did it but writing book two in my current series and the new project it's gotten seriously deep for me. I love live breathe and dream my writing 24/7. There isn't a minute that goes by that I'm not thinking about it people are going to see what I see when they read my world. I did admit how wrong I was do I get points for that :). I'm not making light of research anymore. I'm googling so much stuff I'm going cross eyed but I don't want to write about the same forms of supernatural creatures that have been done before. That I am serious about. Basics will be there but I want to create something different and never been done and there will be plenty of plausible information. I'm not going to go soooo much into left field. I just want to through a curve ball or too it that makes sense. But seriously thank you for the feedback. I'm playing this all by eye. I should have connected with fans and authors months years before I published. I'm in no way an expert and don't claim to be. I'm learning as I go and I'm glad I've met people like you that I can get this kind of feedback from. 🙂

      1. For me, it’s a matter of respecting your reader base as much as you want them to respect you. It’s possible that you started your journey as a writer as a fling with it. Something to try on for size. Everyone has a reason for writing and it’s usually a very personal one. That reason typically evolves into something different over time. Who knows what yours will be in a year or five or ten?

        I did it for passion first and money later and then I lost my passion because all I could think about was the money. That’s where I failed. That is where the journey ended for me.

        You’re working it out. It’s a fun ride: trying to decide who you are as a writer and what you want to accomplish through your work. I wish you the best at it. I hope your personal writing journey is madcap fun times.

        I originally started to write something very different because your initial post really, genuinely offended me. I had to take a step back because I don’t think you intended that at all. I’ve been at author takeovers with you. I’ve read other posts you’ve made. I don’t think that you are the kind of person who would say something with that intention in mind, but I’ll share my initial read of this with you just so you have my take on it with the thought in mind that I have come to accept that you didn’t intend it the way that it reads on a first glance.

        When I first read it? It literally read as if you were saying you had chosen to write paranormal fantasy fiction because it was the easiest, laziest genre to write in since why not? The people who read it SURELY can’t care, right? Or they’re ignorant? Or they’re just so—what? Bored? Desperate? That they’re read anything?

        It’s my favorite genre. It is what I read before I read anything -and I do mean ANYTHING- else and I read A LOT. I have a terminal illness and I’m still desperately working toward being able to finish a PhD because that matters to me. I’m tired a lot so reading is my hobby. It’s how I pass a lot of my time. The idea that you could imply that you chose to write in my favorite genre because it struck you as the easiest way out was incredibly offensive to me.

        I am an educated, professional, proud woman who has led a very rich life. The fact that I enjoy paranormal fiction doesn’t diminish any of that. It is merely another facet of my personality. My life is hard and oftentimes quite cruel. I need a little fantasy to take the edge off. That doesn’t mean I’ll read anything at all ever or that I expect less from the writers of that genre. Honestly? I expect more from them because I’m counting on them to take me out of my life, out of my wasting body, out of my own reality for even a little while so I can believe in magic again.

        I don’t think you intended it to be read that way, but that’s genuinely how it came across to me.

        I give you props for admitting that this was your original reason for doing it. I’d far rather someone offend me with the truth than placate me with a lie. My life is short. My time is precious. I don’t have the patience or the need to be placated.

        It’s nice to see you falling in love with your own world. That’s the best part of writing, I think. You get to create something bigger than yourself. I look forward to seeing what you come up with because the fun part about paranormal is that there are endless possibilities. I like the characters you’ve created already and it’ll be fun to see more depth in their world as you flesh it out. You’ve got real potential. I’m interested to see you explore your range. ❤

      2. OH NO!!! That was not my intention. I don’t think paranormal is the easiest to write about. Hell I think it’s the hardest. It’s my favorite to read and that’s why I chose it to write about. I get all too well the reading for personal escape from your life. I never wrote for the money and I still don’t. I originally wrote this for my friend. Like I’ve said at my takeovers he loves rooting for the bad guys so I thought why not write him a story with nothing but bad guys. Did I think I was going to be this invest when I first wrote it? No not at all. Then I started really getting into the story and what I was writing and I became very excited to learn more about my characters and their personalities. It may have started out fun and it still is but I see it in another light.

        I wish you many more years of life and reading and I look forward to your expertise throughout the years. I’m not here to offend anyone though I know that I can’t make everyone happy. In the end I can only stay true to myself. Like I said I’m learning as I go. I am big enough to admit when I’m wrong and I figured the post would be taken in very different ways.

        For the record I don’t think paranormal is an easy genre to write about . In fact it’s quite hard. I’m learning something new everyday and I’m quite humbled when people love my work or leave positive feedback for the world I’ve creating and working everyday to make better for the few fans I have. I’m putting my all into this world. It has 150% of my time.

        I’m glad there wasn’t an out of control misunderstanding of my words. Sometimes I come across too blunt and people don’t know how to take things I say. It happens to me all the time at work. I’m 100% real. I don’t sugar coat anything. Dark Indiscretions is my first actual novel. I’m a poet first. I’m not ashamed of that fact. Full length writing is new to me and I’m learning as fast as I can. It’s a whole new form of writing that I wasn’t used to. I had a wrong preconception of what it entailed. That was all I was trying to say in this post. It was never meant to be taken seriously. That doesn’t sound right maybe. Not that I’m not serious about writing but this blog post was just meant to be light and funny. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the world I created. It kind of just fell out of my head. I’m slowly coming into my style and a process which will take a while.

        I love paranormal anything would never step lightly and try to trick anyone about anything in this world. I still stick by wanting to do something that hasn’t been done before and I think I have. 🙂

  2. Research can be a pain, though I don’t mind the kind of research that has me looking into pretty things like dresses and castles 😀 I just am not so keen on the heavy kind of research that’s all text! Great post 🙂

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