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  • Writer's pictureA.F. McAllister

Fantasy Research Guide Part 2 - The so what of science

Updated: Apr 21

Welcome back! In the last research guide, I delved into the basics of fantasy research when creating your own fantasy world. So, what’s next? Science. Does it matter? Of course! When creating a fantasy piece that takes place in an apocalyptic world, you have to do the science right.


But… it’s a fantasy world. I can do what I want, right? No! Nope! Not quite! Even a fantasy world has to make sense and when your story takes place on Earth, you have to get some things right.


Plan


As I stated last time, planning is your most important step, and that has not changed! Things to consider when delving into the working science of your world:


1. What type of cataclysmic event caused the changes on Earth?

2. Are you placing your story in the future? Or has something changed the timeline, and it occurred in the past?

3. What area of the world is the setting for your story?

4. How have people adapted? Has the catastrophe occurred so long ago that people have new physical features because of the environmental changes?

5. Has the animal life or plant life changed?

6. Do the people still understand science? Or has the knowledge been lost?


These are just a few of the topics that should be considered before diving into creating the functioning science in your version of the world. There will be many, many more things that will come up along the way, as I said before, but this is a place to start.


Next… You guessed it, back to the research.


Research


The second step is to begin the research on normal scientific processes. If you don’t understand how it works, you can’t change it to fit your world.


Places to search:


1. Google – Yes, I know I mentioned this in the last installment, but it needs mentioned again. This is a great place to start looking for your resources. It is a large search engine, and it can help you find the needed information.


2. Scientific Journals – These peer reviewed science articles will be your best friend when learning as much as possible about science. Pick a subject that you want to know more about, i.e., seismic activity, and you will find numerous articles discussing seismic activity and its effects on different parts of the world. That is just one example.


3. Textbooks – These books can be a great place to learn the basics of science because they were written to teach the subject they were written on. Now, make sure that they are current. Great-grandpa’s science book from 1920 may be cool, but it’s not going to be the best source for up-to-date science information.


4. Science Teachers – People with a degree in science or those who teach would be great resources for gaining a basis of knowledge. They are well-versed in their science of choice!


How to determine if your sources are legitimate:


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


Yes, I mentioned this before, but it is that important. Any professionally written document will list the sources where the author obtained the information, and this illustrates a reliable source of writing.


2. Make certain that a scientific journal is peer reviewed.


This is a crucial step in determining if an article is reliable. If it has not been peer reviewed, then it has not given the scientific community a chance to refute the claims in the article. If it is not peer reviewed – put it down and walk away!


Do you remember the next step from last week’s post? If you guessed adding your facts to your writing, you’re correct!


Incorporation


The last step of working with research is adding your facts to your writing. As I mentioned last time, adding details into descriptions, adding details into dialogue, and adding hints are three easy ways to incorporate your research. Here are a couple more:


1. Have your characters find an old book.


This could be a great way to incorporate some of the scientific facts into your writing. If the characters find a textbook on science, then you could add pieces of information by creating pages that the characters would read. This method would be fairly straightforward, but be careful not to sound to mechanical or overload the reader with too many facts all at once.


2. Have a character that is well-versed in science.


This could be another easy was to add facts to your writing. If the character is an expert in a science field, you can add the details through narration, the character’s thoughts, or the character’s dialogue. It will also give the opportunity for other characters to ask questions, which can help with adding the needed information.


3. Let the world speak for itself.


This can be achieved through natural disasters, or normal climate information. A specific area of the world is going to act in a certain way. By portraying these normal natural processes, you are giving glimpses of the science behind the functions of the Earth.


And there you have it… research basics on adding believable science into your world. A few last things before we’re through, listed below are a few sites worth checking out.



This is a great source to learn how scientific research is performed. It may not directly help with your writing, but it can help you understand the result from the scientific articles, as well as understanding how the information is gathered. Basically, the processes that scientists go through to come to their conclusions.



This is a wonderful source for finding a needed scientific journal. The site lists the journals by name, but you can also search them by subject. This could come in handy when trying to find something on a subject that may not be commonly searched for on a regular search engine.


3. JSTOR Home (www.jstor.org)


This is another source that can be used to search for scholarly article that may assist with your scientific research. Just type in the subject and let it do the work on finding those useful articles!


And that’s it for this week! Thanks for tuning in!


Next time… learning to create a fantasy map once you have your world mechanics worked out. I mean, you can’t have a desert next to marsh… that doesn’t make sense.


Check back for more ramblings on fantasy topics!

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