Researching Magic

Although I primarily write fantasy, there’s a great deal of research which goes into the creation of my stories.  I suppose I could simply make up the entire thing, but I love legends and mythology so I actually enjoy the research.  That research has given me new ideas and taken my characters to places I couldn’t have imagined!

Along with a pretty extensive collection of legends, I admit I’m addicted to Wikipedia.  While I do look up specific objects on that site, I also click on the sources below the articles.  It is through these external links that I have found on-line library collections of 16th century illuminated manuscripts and a little known compilation of Native American legends.  Being a writer when there’s such a vast wealth of knowledge available is exhilarating.

The creation of magical powers is another part of my stories, and I spent hours developing it for my first book and more time increasing my knowledge since then.  I have read books on magic and herbal healing, mostly those written by modern practitioners of the craft – and while I’m not a witch – as an author, I like to have some basis in reality for my stories.  Many cultures have a strong tradition of herbal and crystal healing and those areas find their way into my work as well.   I have expanded on those resources to develop my own brand of magic.  I like spending a few moments flipping through my dictionaries of healing herbs and crystals to get some inspirtaion for my stories.  Sometimes, I write my characters into impossible situations that I have no solution for – a few flips through one of my resources sometimes turns up the perfect answer or at least gives me a grain of knowledge that I can expand into a viable solution.

All of the research gets filed into my brain, or scribbled onto index cards, or typed into documents that lurk on my computer. That process makes writing as much about learning as about creating a story.  I think that’s the thing that keeps my reader interested – there’s really something to learn hidden in my stories.  I know the research and learning is what keeps me interested as a writer – there’s so much out there that I feel like I’ll never run out of fuel for my stories.

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