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  • Writer's pictureA.F. McAllister

Fantasy Research Guide Part 1

Updated: Apr 21

Do you want to make your story feel real? Do you need your world to make sense? Do you want to dazzle the reader with intricate details of the wonderful idea in your mind?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you’ve come to the right place! This quick research reference will assist in guiding you through the steps of creating your own world, and how to incorporate real world research into it.


The first and most important step is to plan! Topics to consider:

1. Is your world going to take place in a “real” place? Or is the setting of the story a place that only exists in your mind?

2. What time period will the story take place in? Is this an Earth time period, or one of your own creation?

3. Do any of the characters have a known profession?

4. Does your story have a magic system? Is it based on another series, movie, or literary work? Or is the magic system one that you have created?

5. What is the geologic landscape of your world? Are you holding onto the rules that dictate Earth’s geologic system, or will it be a new system?

6. What races exist in your world? Or are you sticking with humans from Earth?

These are just a few of the topics that should be considered before diving into creating a fantasy world. There will be many, many more things that will come up along the way, but as a basis, this is a good place to start.

So, now you have some basics… What next?


The second step is to research topics in which you do not have a strong basis of knowledge. This research will be crucial to creating a believable story and setting.

Places to search:

1. Google – Yes, it is just a search engine, but it is a great place to start looking for resources. It can find just about anything and can give you a place to start.

2. Stuck on naming? – A fantasy name generator is a wonderful resource that you can use to help with name creation.

3. Books, magazines, articles… etc. These are tried-and-true places to find information, and with the correct search criteria, are rather easy to find. The chore comes when sifting through the plethora of information and narrowing it down to a specific topic.

4. Other fantasy authors – Other authors can be a great resource because we’ve read a lot of what is out there. So, if you base your magic system on Harry Potter; you have readers that can give you feedback on the believability of your magic system.

How to determine if your sources are legit:

1. Look for references at the end of the piece.

Any professionally written document will list the sources where the author obtained the information, and this illustrates a reliable source of writing.

2. Look at the credentials of the author.

If a piece on Ancient Greece is written by a soccer player, then it may not be wise to take it on face value, but if it is written by a Classics professor from Yale; chances are it is probably going to be fairly accurate.

So, now you have some information… wonderful, right? I bet you’re wondering how to add this overwhelming number of facts into a fantasy piece. Never fear! Tips are coming up next!


The last step in working with research is to add the facts into your writing without making it feel like you are turning in a research paper to your professor. Ways to do this:

1. Add details into the descriptions.

This is a simple and effect way to add real place facts into your story. If the story takes place in Paris, France, during an alien invasion, the layout of the city should be accurate to maintain believability. When giving the descriptions of the buildings, or where they are placed, you can slip in some of your research. The buildings may be damaged or crumbing because of the aliens, but they should be in the correct place. The Louvre can’t be right next to the Eiffel Tower, people would know that’s not right.

2. Add details to dialogue.

Having a character ask a simple question can be an easy way to incorporate facts into the story. If your character is new to the area, it would make sense that they would not know about the layout of a city or the customs of a group of people. Questions make it feel natural when a character explains something.

3. Drop hints.

If you want to reference an idea, but do not want to get bogged down with all the details, then you can drop hints. Such as, “Don’t forget to cast that spell to change your eye colour, or they’ll think you’re a demon.” If you’ve researched a group of people and know that if they saw someone with red eyes, they would think it was a demonic being—you can simply drop the hint. It lets the reader know a little about the culture, but does not force you to write out a long description that could slow the pacing of the story. It also gives the reader the ability to look it up if they are curious.

That’s it… in a nutshell. Research is important to making, even a fantasy world, legitimate to the audience.

One last tip… if you, as the author, ask: what does an item look like? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? What would it sound like? Then, it is time to research!

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Betty cornwell
Betty cornwell
27 ene 2023

Love the new web site!

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