Every writer needs to do some kind of research for their book, even if they are writing a book of fiction. I have a friend who is writing a book set in Sweden, so she is doing a lot of research about the culture, time difference, and language. My book is not set in a real location, but in a made up world. While it’s fun to dream up all this up, I also like to make my characters and locations stem from a real place, legend, or folklore.
So I searched for a book that would help me flesh out some of my made up world and the characters in it. I went to Barnes & Noble and asked if they had a book of magic or magical creatures. An older man led me to the section of witches, spells, and wicca. Not really what I was looking for…but that might explain why he gave me a weird look before he walked away.
Disappointed, I went searching online and found this book, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures. Since it wasn’t that expensive, I took the chance and ordered it.
So glad I did because this book is seriously amazing. It covers every sort of magical creature I’ve read about in books and the movies, and ones I’ve never even heard of. It gives a full description of the creature, its origin, and what it is like in every culture. So if you don’t like a description in one culture, you can use another culture that fits your story best.
For example, did you know that an Aguane is a female fairy from the Austrian Alps and is also a shape shifter? They guard the rivers and streams, and humans must ask their permission before entering the water. They aren’t a Tinkerbell-type-fairy either, as they have been known to eat adults! However, they do like children and will even carry them on their backs across the water.
Having a book to reference like this helps in many ways. Not only does it make the characters more believable to the reader, but it also gives the writer more information to work with. It can help round out a character’s description, background, motivation, and limitation.
Just reading through the descriptions help an imagination run wild with ideas, and it is also great to flip through if you ever find yourself experiencing writers block. What is your favorite reference book?
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