Research for Fantasy Stories: Dieselpunk Research

Yes, you can – and should – do research for your writing, even if you’re writing fantasy. Especially if you’re writing historical fantasy. 

The dieselpunk short story series I’m working on is just that – historical fiction with elements of fantasy. While dieselpunk traditionally involves retro-futuristic technology (think the flying jetpack from The Rocketeer), it can also include elements of the paranormal or the fantastical. And to write any or all of these nuances well requires a bit of research.

Here are some of the things that I’m currently researching for my historical fantasy/dieselpunk series:

Jazz-Age Fashion and Aesthetics

The stories I’m writing take place during the Roaring 20s, and my protagonist, Cornelia Jones, is a wealthy socialite. While Cornelia’s adventures don’t really focus on the details of day-to-day life, I do want to give the readers an accurate feeling for the setting and the time period. The clothes that an upper-class woman in the mid-twenties would have worn, the kind of car she owns, other details like the use of telegrams and iceboxes and gramophones all help to build the world. Continue reading

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Worldbuilding Tips: Where to Get Ideas

Many people ask me where I get my ideas. That’s always a tough question to answer, but today I’ll share some tips on where I get ideas for worldbuilding. I hope these help you to create alien creatures, futuristic technology, magic spells, new cultures, and all the trappings of building a world.

Build on Common Tropes

I wrote this post a while back about being unoriginal when creating fantasy creatures. There’s a reason that so many fantasy stories feature dragons and dwarves and goblins. And yet, the dragons and dwarves and goblins are different in every story, every world, every sub-genre. There are as many ways to add unique elements to the old standby of “large fire-breathing dragon” as there are people to write the stories. Don’t discount the old traditional classics as a great jumping-off point for original ideas.

Build on Real Things

In this post, I discuss two examples of stories that use real animals as fantasy races. Like the previous point, there’s a lot of value in starting with something familiar and then adding your own creativity to it. Whether you’re creating a race of armor-wearing polar bears, or a dystopian sci-fi world where dolphin and whales have advanced beyond humans, there’s a ton of inspiration in the real world all around. Continue reading