…Or, researching your story for greater impact. (Okay, that sounded better in my head.) One of the more interesting keys for writing is the ability to utilize research in new worlds. (And, any time you write fiction, you are creating a new world, even if you’re basing the story on what is or has been. This is because you’re introducing one or more things that aren’t a part of the world, be it people, places, things, or events. Otherwise, it would be fact, not fiction, you are writing.)
Let’s pull up an example. You have a power that’s decided on expansion of their borders as a policy. This expansion is met with little effective resistance until they attempt to expand into a small monarchy that has the strength and will to stand and fight. This kingdom, with an alliance of other powers, fights this power’s expansion with everything they have. Now, have I described, at a high level, World War II’s beginning with Nazi Germany trying to expand into the United Kingdom? Or did I describe the basic plot covering the “Honor Harrington” series by author David Weber? (Hint: it’s both.)
I happened to pick this scenario specifically because the thoughts of how World War II and much of the brand-new technologies and tactics completely changed the nature of war. Something I would be surprised if Mr. Weber was not keenly aware of when he was writing the Honor Harrington series. The justifications and actions are unique, but there is a parallel. Mr. Weber also pulls in the changes in technologies and tactics and how those changes change the dynamics of war. Nazi U-Boats swarmed the Atlantic in coordinated “wolf packs” to hunt Allied shipping. The Allies counter by making radar that fits on aircraft and can “see” these submarines, often before the planes themselves are seen, allowing for surprise attacks against them. Nazis created the V1 missile, the Allies bomb the launching strips. Nazis create huge, fortified buildings, the Allies create huge, fortified bombs. New tanks, better anti-tank weaponry. Everywhere you turn, the Germans created so-called “super weapons” and the Allies neutralized them. And the same thing happened several times in Mr. Weber’s books. (I don’t want to elaborate too much as many of them in his books were plot points.)
The exact same thing tends to be said for mysteries. How do you write a murder? You research murder. As Richard Castle (portrayed by Nathan Fillion) says in the beginning of many of the episodes of Castle, “There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better.” (Quote from IMDB.) He’s absolutely correct. When you write murder, you research murder, police procedure, forensics, and psychology at the very least. You almost have to become an expert of all the above.
This goes for any other stories too. Fantasy stories rely on researching the period they are in. Stories involving vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures require researching the myths and legends. And, above all and regardless what story an author writes, one must understand how people will react to the situation they are placed in.