Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author David M. Brown Researching Fictitious Worlds

Please join me in welcoming author David M. Brown as theIMG_4236big special guest blogger today as he tours blogdom with his debut release, FEZARIU’S EPIPHANY.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the fantasy novel:  The White Oak, Clarendon’s oldest brothel, lured and destroyed men by the thousands. Fezariu was different. He had never been drawn by the White Oak’s vices but the brothel had still ruined him when he was just a boy. Salvation came in the form of the Merelax Mercenaries – Elenchera’s most prestigious hired hands. They gave Fezariu the chance to escape from his past. Immersed in the world of dangerous assignments in the colonies Fezariu longed to forget everything about his childhood but only in facing the past would he ever be free of it.

Thanks to David, I can offer 5 eBook giveaways of his debut novel. To be enter in the giveaway for a chance at one of the 5 copies, simply comment on David's post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, July 28. Be sure to include your e-mail if it's not included in your profile.

I asked David to talk a bit about research and how he went about it for his book since it deals with a fictitious world.

Research is as important as your writing craft. You could write prose to rival Tolstoy, Joyce or Marquez but if you throw in some facts that are not true then you have undermined your entire work. It’s possible to get away with some discrepancies in your writing, some big ones are even overlooked, but it all comes down to who is reading your book and how good their attention to detail and general knowledge is. In short, not doing enough research is a risk not worth taking.

Paperback CoverI have a few things in my favour when it comes to research. Firstly, my books are set in the fictitious world of Elenchera, a world whose rules are made by me but even I have to abide by common sense in many areas whether it’s geographical aspects or the art of war. Most of my research comes through history which was conveniently my favourite academic subject and remains one of my passions to this day. I wanted Elenchera to be a unique world, inhabited by not just humans but other races such as dwarves, elves and anthropomorphic races, but I didn’t start writing the world history until I had a better grasp of our own history. 

Cassel’s World History became my constant companion as I built the world of Elenchera. Not only does it provide a timeline of historical events, it features a handful of essays examining the changing faces of human society as primitive methods of survival give way to advancements in technology. I also needed to understand why we fight each other and there seems to be an endless list of excuses.

The level of research you need to do will depend on your general knowledge, of course. A writer whose next book is about seafaring may need little research if they have lived all their life by the coast and are a passionate sailor already. 

My debut novel, FEZARIU’S EPIPHANY, has many settings including a bakery and a military university where prestigious mercenaries are trained. I’ve never been a mercenary myself, nor have I fought in wars or battles armed only with a sword, but a combination of my imagination and my love of military history books helped to shape the story for me and, in particular, the fighting scenes which I regard as some of my favourite moments in the book. Whatever the element of your story, big or small, it will need some degree of research if the tiniest part of you isn’t sure about its accuracy. 

A good reader will be able to identify glaring mistakes so this is justification for having a friend or family member read your manuscript before submitting it. My wife, Donna, is my chosen reader and critic because she isn’t afraid to cover my work with a red pen ande-Book Cover hand it back with the words “Try again!” She’s also good at identifying areas which may require more research. If I mention a journey by boat taking a specific amount of time she’ll ask me is that accurate. If I’m talking about types of trees or fish she’ll ask me would these be found in the locations I am describing. If I fumble over my answers I know I haven’t researched enough. 

No one expects detailed essays on the areas you have researched, just the reassurance that you if you are writing about the Wild West or Internet hacking that you’ve taken the time to learn your facts. Hopefully these won’t be famous last words from me!

David, thanks for guest blogging and offering the 5 eBook giveaways. Research can definitely make or break a storyline. I agree with you that you can get away with some discrepancies in a story, but readers don’t want to find them on every other page.

Now a bit of background on David. He was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and first conceived the idea of the Elencheran Chronicles at college in 1999. He spent 10 years compiling the history of Elenchera, resulting in 47,000+ years of events, 500+ maps, 2000+ pages, several short stories and many much-needed acquaintances with Jack Daniels.

David also has a blog, The World According to Dave, which features reviews, stories and dramatic tales of the horrors of owning cats. He now lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with his wife, Donna, and their six cats. He is currently working on ‘A WORLD APART,’ an epic fantasy novel. 

For more on David and his writing, check out his website - The Elencheran Chronicles, find him on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Share your thoughts on research. As an author do you find research an important part of your story? As a reader, can you overlook a few discrepancies? Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.


  1. David, First of all, I know nothing, therefore, I need to research everything. Secondly, I love researching everything. I have to be careful that, for me, researching doesn't turn into my life's work. :) Great post!

    Thanks, Mason, for your work in hosting this.

  2. Thanks Teresa - I agree, it's easy to become totally absorbed in the world of research. However, I can still get tripped up by small details. Thankfully my wife is always there to raise an eyebrow and say 'Are you sure that species of fish would be found so close to shore?'. Small things but they can stick in a reader's mind if they aren't right.

    Mason, thanks so much for hosting my post on this wonderful blog. I expect I shall be returning many times to read about the work of others!


  3. Too true. I've found getting little facts wrong to be especially detrimental when dealing with certain topics that involve fanatical hobbyists, etc. Get a gun model wrong, or say rim-fire instead of center-fire and someone will send you a nasty email.
    Thanks for this great post.

  4. Hi, David. I agree with you about the importance of research. The trick for me is to use research not just as fact-checking. I need to let the research to shape my inspiration. It's not just that readers may find a hole in the world I'm presenting in the book. When I'm checking how long it takes to drive from one place to another, I want to find out also what sort of roads are available, what the scenery would be... in short, what would it feel like to make that drive? What would pass through my mind as I was making the drive.

    Since I write martial arts action, I spend a lot of time researching fighting styles and techniques. In that case, you're always torn between writing what is realistic and what is exciting. Then, it's not just a matter of knowing what's possible, but also what sorts of things have been accepted into our shared cultural imagination about martial arts.


  5. Hi David , i think the problem with research is that it has got to be a subject that totally inspires you,
    if not you end up with some half hearted text witch has lots of errors.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.