Writers Learn Everything

Writers Learn Everything

by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

I write fantasy, so I have to do more research than those who write real life.

“Wait,” some protest, “there’s a lot of research required for historical, or military thrillers, or other real stories. But in fantasy, you can just make everything up!”

Well, I could, but you wouldn’t enjoy it as much. My job in speculative fiction is to make you believe something could be real, even when it clearly isn’t. That you know of. Yet.

If so much is real, and what is new fits so closely with what we know is real, then maybe, just maybe….? And thus, speculative fiction.

This is why my story about mermaids required research into fox genetics and amazing corpuscles in elephant trunks. And for my D is for Dinosaur entry, I plunged into the following diverse topics:

  • the extremely rare Devils Hole Pupfish, found in a single geothermal pool
  • the history of Chinese bronze casting
  • the natural history of Kazahkstan
  • cassowary attacks
  • the horrifically destructive “Cultural Revolution” in China

Many of these were reduced in final editing so that the submitted story contains now only a reference or a quirky fact, but they are still the foundation for a more cohesive, structurally sound piece of totally-made-up fiction.

When the apocalypse comes and libraries are burning and you have to choose your team for survival, make sure to include a writer. Their brains are full of hidden and potentially useful information!


Laura VanArendonk Baugh overcame the dubious challenge of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills to become an award-winning writer of speculative fiction, mystery, and non-fiction. Her works have earned numerous accolades, including 3-star ratings (the highest possible) on Tangent‘s “Recommended Reading” list. Her latest novel The Songweaver’s Vow releases February 21 and taught her about ninth century clothing dyes and building construction in Northern Europe. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com .

D IS FOR DINOSAUR is available now!


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