Dear reading fiction-writer. Yes, you. Do you research?
If you write historical fiction, you probably do. You need to know the proper time-frame and era that your characters live in. You need to know about food, transport, weapons, social classes and so forth. When you write contemporary fiction, you’ll probably hound the news and modern cultural information.
When you write fantasy of Sci-Fi though… what is there to research in fantasy or science fiction? The writers that research will know. The ones that think that “those areas are open to anything so why bother to research when you can write” should think again. To keep your work credible you should decide on what laws of physics you want to bend and which ones you should adhere to in order not to create an entirely insane world or environment. Agreed, in fantasy that is not even so much a point (although it’s still important), but for science fiction you’d better. After all, the key word in there is ‘science’, and that is something you should make sure of. Stick to the science. You can work out how certain things may have evolved in the future, but to be credible I think it is necessary to work from the beginning that is our own time and technology. Rockets don’t suddenly switch from rocket fuel to water, for instance. On the other hand, they may benefit from improved solar panels, or sail on spacial storms that we can’t pick up yet at this moment.
If you are looking for answers and you’re lost for options, have a look at the Research Monkey columns over at the Alexandria Publishing Group website. Research Monkey has posted several articles on research already, and every month there’s more to read, more to learn.