Someone once referred to writing as “building castles in the air”. Which sounds airy and delightful… and just not solid. Not enough to hang a story on. Stories are slippery sons of so-and-sos, and if you haven’t got a good rope and a place to stand, or at the very least patience and a good livetrap, you’ll never catch them long enough to write them down.
If something goes into a story, it needs to have a foundation. Maybe research. Maybe prior canon – not just fanfic, think of all the modern reworkings of Grimm’s tales, Arthur, and Robin Hood. Maybe just a writer’s personal knowledge of human nature, and “if I were trapped in a dragon lair, this is what I’d do….”
Which is one reason I read just about any odd thing I get my hands on, and do lots of more specific research. I try, as much as possible, to lay a solid footing for every element in my story. To give the reader the sense that there is something tangible, something real, behind even the oddest things that show up. To – in a sense – make sure that if there is a castle in the air, then there’s also a wizard with a specialty in elemental Air to solidify the clouds it’s floating on, and someone else with the sense to build a hydroponic system in that solid-cloud so the castle denizens have something to eat. 😉
Currently I’m using bits of a fanfic fluff idea to keep me going while I fight my way through the trickiest part of Seeds of Blood. I think the fluff is interesting, and doesn’t contradict canon, but it will involve adding some headcanon to what we officially know. So… I’ve been checking and re-checking every bit of that as it’s written, and where something isn’t straight canon, I’ve tried to write down what I used for “this might be plausible given what we know”. So that I can keep the plotbunnies grounded as much in reality as possible.
Because if a world doesn’t feel real, then characters can’t have a realistic response to it. And if you can’t manage that, the whole story crumbles.
…Just a few stray thoughts. 🙂 Now, back to beating up monsters….