My Writing Process – a blog hop

I was invited by Libby over at Subourbon Mom to participate in a writing blog tour. You can read her posts about southern life and the writing life. Many thanks to Libby for tagging me to write about my writing! So here are the questions I was given, and my answers:

1. What am I working on?

Besides trying to come up with a witty and wonderful blog post each week, I’m working on a fantasy novel trilogy. I’m revising/rewriting book one, and working on the first draft of book two.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s always the challenge, isn’t it – to write something that fulfills readers’ expectations while still being unique and unexpected. This trilogy I’m working on is cross-world high fantasy – it’s got magic, monsters, swords and battles, and hopping between this world and the fantasy realm. But it also has a lot of elements drawn from the mythology of Finland and the Sami (the indigenous people of Scandinavia). Hopefully that slant makes my stories unique without being so off-the-wall that one one will read them.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because I have way too many ideas in my head to simply leave them there. I’ve always loved fantasy – reading it, watching it, and writing it.

4. How does my writing process work?

This question could be answered several different ways. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser. I don’t usually outline an entire book before I begin, but I have the basic plot worked out, all the main characters, and I know how I want the story to end. As far as my writing routine – well, I’m still working on that one. I’m generally more creative in the evenings, but I always seem to have a lot of other things to do then. I’m still working on making writing a priority.

And now I’m tagging three other amazing writers to carry on this blog-hop!

Abigail Bromilow says: Full time wife and mother, most of the time corporate crusader, and ever-constant fangirl. I love all things literary and want to be a writer when I grow up. I collect supplies for crafts I’ll never finish, am secretly trying to turn all of our farm animals into pets, and have finally accepted that I will never have clean floors or organized file drawers. I share my life with a husband who accepts me for everything I am (and am not), and three children that remind me how important imagination really is. She blogs at An Unorganized Mind.

Ashley Scott says: My name is Ashley, I created this blog in hopes of reaching people who are in pain…it doesn’t matter what kind of pain. I want to help you. Through my rough life I have gained the insight that I am supposed to reach out and make sure that no one going through hard times EVER has to be alone. Just know, you are never alone, especially now! Remember that you are loved. She blogs at Journey out of the Abyss.

Bonnie Watson says: Bonnie was first introduced to the digital world while attending Virginia Commonwealth University. As a writer, digital medium assisted in developing character and landscape references. Her collection of How to art books by various favorite artists (Gary Lippincott, Jessica Peffer, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) continues to grow, and serves as an inspiration for future ideas. After graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, Bonnie went into Visual Design and Customer Relations. She is author of the Wisdom Novel series, and a freelancer on the side. She writes, paints, and composes music at Wisdom Novels.

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Research for a Fantasy Story

Yes, I’m writing a fantasy story and yes, I’m doing research. I believe that research to one degree or another is going to come into most any writing project, unless you’re writing a memoir or something that you’re truly an expert on. Roz Morris wrote a fantastic post about ways to do research for a novel, so I’m not going to try to duplicate what she wrote.

Even if you’re writing a realistic work of fiction, you might still need to a bit of research to add that extra touch of realism to something that you know nothing about. What if your main character owns several Great Danes, but you’ve never been near a dog bigger than a Chihuahua in your life? A little research—hands-on or otherwise—might be in order.

Obviously, historical fiction is the most research-heavy genre. Depending on your story and your intended audience, you don’t have to be a stickler for every detail, but general accuracy is good. For example, a historical fiction tale set in medieval London should not make mention of Queen Victoria. Unless you’re trying to weave in time-travel or some other fantastical element, this would be a glaring mistake.

I wrote a blog post a while back about world-building for fantasy and sci-fi, and the use of research. And so, in keeping with my own advice, I’m doing some research for my current fantasy trilogy. Here are three of the main subjects I’m researching:

Musical instruments—specifically, the traditional folk instruments of Finland and other Scandinavian regions.  I’m not trying to be historically accurate, or even accurate with the details of instrument construction or use, because this is a fantasy world. The world is inspired by the mythology of Finland, however, and so I want the musical instruments—like the jouhikko, the kantele, and the mouth harp—to reflect this. YouTube has been my primary research tool—ancient Finnish folk music is alive and well today, and YouTube lets me both see and hear the instruments in action.

Reindeer—specifically, the reindeer and their herders in Finland. This has required the most research (since two of my main characters are reindeer herders from modern-day Finland). My main source of information has been internet searches, but I’ve read some books, too (both fiction and non-fiction) that involve reindeer and the Sami people.

Even when I deem my research complete and publish my stories, there will probably be inaccuracies. But since my intended audience is the average North American/Western European reader of fantasy adventure books, I’m not too concerned with every detail. I want enough of the setting/culture/details of the animals to be accurate enough to give the reader a flavor of this very real yet very foreign lifestyle.

Northern Lights—specifically, what aurora scientists right now are studying and how they’re doing it. Again, this is a research-intensive topic, and one where I will probably wind up with inaccuracies despite my best efforts. The internet has been my only source of information about this, with my main focus being the websites of universities that have aurora programs. My next step, if I feel I need more detailed information, would be to contact some of the people at these universities to ask specific questions. Again, though, like with the reindeer, I’m writing my stories for readers of fantasy—not aurora experts or astronomers. I want the reader to feel convinced, but if I get one little jot of technobabble wrong, I don’t consider that a big deal.

Any other writers of fantasy or sci-fi out there? What sort of research have you done for your stories?