The Pits of Research
I did it. I fell into the Pits of Research.
Don’t get me wrong. I love research. At a point in my life I wanted to be a professional researcher, i.e. a professor, so the hankering to discover new information is definitely strong with me.
However. There are good and bad ways to go about these things. I’ve been adding to and editing Pilgrim of the Sky, which, as I mentioned, has a lot to do with religion. Sort of. In the book, the premise revolves (haha, revolves…) around eight worlds. These worlds are all connected, are part of infinite worlds, yet still have similarities between them. The main character’s world is mostly ours. Now, on top of that, the book relies heavily on concepts of the reincarnation of divine beings and, well, divine beings in general. I won’t say too much because it would ruin some of the story, but our heroine gets involved with these quasi-divine, reincarnated people.
One of my goals in this edit was to branch out the various pantheons I include, away from Celtic and Norse to something more interesting. Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last week sifting through research on every pantheon I can find. And it’s helpful.
But I was totally misguided.
The thing about having these eight worlds is a connection to but not a dependence upon each other. My mistake was leaning too heavily on research and not heavily enough on my own imagination, on the fantasy freedom I meant to explore in the first place.
Rule #1 for fantasy writers: research from the real world is great, and knowledge is power and all that jazz — however, relying too heavily on it can cloud your mind and slow you down. The most important thing for me, at this moment, was not mapping god to god across every known pantheon, but rather, just telling a good story and having some cool things happen. Which is what I’m doing at this juncture with my main character. I decided she needed some real testing. A gods’ gauntlet. But the thing is, the gauntlet isn’t in her world. Yet for some reason I spent hours this week reading up about the Mesopotamian and various Asian pantheons. Not that it won’t ever help me, or help me in another section of the book… I was just doing it all wrong. This is not the research you’re looking for, in other words.
Okay, so I lost a few days. It’s not the end of the world. Just be wary of research. As fun as it is, as thrilling as it can be, it can also blind you from your task at hand.
Anyway. Back to that gauntlet. Time to roll for initiative.