It is Not Enough to Have a Story
by Beth Daniels
aka Beth Henderson, J.B. Dane, Nied Darnell
Before you actually decided to be a writer…
Before you dreamed up your first story…or the ones after that…
Before you opened a blank document on your computer…
…did you have any idea that you’d need to do some school work?
That’s what it was for most us in the beginning, right? The only reason we’d ever done research, dug into the history of something, or started searching the Internet for some weird fact we hoped would be easier to find on the Web…well, in the past when we did any of that it was to write a paper for a class or course in school.
Who knew we’d have to do it to spin a story?
And a FANTASY story at that! Something where the world, the people, the everything could be totally invented rather than be based in reality.
Few of us, although considering we were reading the types of stories we were now going to write, we should have guessed. The tales of the future, of fantasy, or things that only exist in peasant tales from around the world, well, they all had seeds from reality from which they’d sprung.
I write Steampunk and I write urban fantasy. For one I inhale history of the Victorian era, both in Britain and in the US because I write Weird West Steampunk. I need to know when things were invented so I can invent them earlier or differently or in a different place. I need to know history so I can tamper with it, change it, morph it into the world where my story unfolds. Both Steampunk and Gaslamp Fantasy (which has less emphasis on machines and more on the world of magic) keep a lot of the same elements of the era…even when the story takes place in a parallel dimension. Bowlers, walking canes, corsets, bustles, upswept hair, and boots it takes a button hook to fasten don’t change. The fog stays place in London and San Francisco; the Wild West is still concerned with laying railroad tracks, with Indians, with miners and immigrant trains. And yet, in reality, skyscrapers make their first appearance in Chicago, Edison and Tesla are dueling over which type of electricity is best, electric lights are replacing gaslamps, telephones, typewriters, sewing machines, Gatling guns, dynamite, bicycles, transatlantic cables and telegraphs, and…well, wonders are becoming common place without the assistance of a writer of lies – you know, a fiction writer – creating them!
We need to know what is necessary for time travel, for warp speed. We need to know what new discoveries are being made today and those possible in the future…and in what part of the future.
We need to know about myths and legends and how we can change them to suit our needs.
Taking something that is known and altering it is what we do.
And it is never, ever enough just to have a story to tell. You always need to do some type of research to sell your reader on the believability of the world you create.
More About the Author
Beth Daniels is the author of 29 published romance novels (romantic-suspense-comedy, romantic comedy, historical romance, and YA romantic comedy) under a handful of other names so the idea of reinventing herself with new monikers for fantasy just seemed natural. She’s also the author of non-fiction books about writing fiction among which is the only book yet available that deals just with writing Steampunk (GEARED UP WRITING STEAMPUNK) and the newly released 60 WAYS TO PLOT AND DODGE WRITER’S BLOCK. She’s over educated with both a BA in History and an MA in English Composition and Rhetoric with an Emphasis on Creative Writing. She’s been a popular online workshop presenter in the RWA world since 2010.
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