I'm approaching 11, 000 words on my Big Bang. I've discovered that while Castiel is possibly the biggest pain in my ass ever, Uriel is kind of a blast. I'm suddenly really looking forward to writing my ending and Uriel's reaction to my big reveal. Sadly, I think Castiel is just going to stand there, nod, and realise that it all makes sense while everyone else kind of explodes.

Anyway, this fic is turning out, in many ways, to be similar to The Sour for The Sweet, in that there are a lot of little case fics surrounding the greater mytharc. (And yeah, Sam's also a supernatural being that has choice and yellow eyes and is hated by angels and kind of rogue... but that's not what this is about.)

While I don't recommend Wikipedia to be anyone's be all and end all of research, it's a great place to jump start ideas. I like my Winchesters (and my original characters in original fiction) to hunt/deal with creatures and things that people actually believe(d) in. Luckily, there's no end to what people will believe. So, I give you the List of Monsters, divided up by region. Don't disregard the links at the bottom! Cryptids are listed separately! (Their list is here, listed alphabetically.) Fearsome Critters are from North American folklore and listed separately. The List of Legendary Creatures is also separate and useful (alphabetical and with short, informational tags). There is some overlap in these lists, of course, but plenty appear only on one list.

While I generally research a little further than Wikipedia, these are great starting points for coming up with fearsome creatures. (Some are more unbelievable than others. I didn't make up the buffalo that shits fire, but I wish I did.)

(Seriously, don't disregard the usefulness of Wikipedia as a root source, especially if you do further research or are just building on it for fictive purposes. If you are exploring other lines, Wikipedia's List of Angels (with tags), List of Enochian Angels, List of Theological Demons, List of Fictional Demons are all lists that I've found useful. Wikipedia also looks at the hierarchy of angels in different sects. There's also a hierarchy of demons and the classification of demons.)

I'm not suggesting that anyone should be married to information pulled from a source like this, but they can be a fount of ideas and a source. I know I tend to write more confidently when I'm pulling from a source, even if I'm doing it only in the most esoteric way (as with Lix Tetrax). I usually, as a writer, like to rely on things in which people really believe or believed - I feel that it adds something valid when I'm writing something off in Crazy Speculative Fiction Land. I function that way as a reader as well. It's one of the reasons that I will always prefer Neil Gaiman's well researched American Gods to a lot of modern vampire novels (there is nothing remotely believable in them - no one ever actually believed in vampires like Edward Cullen) and why I find Tolkien's writing to some of the only world-building fantasy I can stomach. (And no, research doesn't automatically makes someone a great writer, but it's certainly a better start than Make Believe Medieval Land With Friendly Dragons Who Are Fluffy.)

I personally love researching. It's one of my favorite parts of writing. I've been gathering sources for my Mongolian Steampunk for a long time and am looking forward to starting it back up in late spring. It's Speculative Fiction in Real Medieval Land, which is hard (goddamn Monoglian nomenclature for one), but it's work I really enjoy. It makes my writing something of which I can be proud even if it never sees the light of day (although when the Mongolian Steampunk is done and I've done years of research and played with post-colonial theory and medieval religious practices and cultures and nomenclatures and researched steam power and engineering, you'd better be sure that I'll be doing my damnedest to publish it). Having roots in the real world, in my opinion, is what can keep the most out there of speculative fiction (or fanfiction) from totally losing its readers.

As a final note, I've seen some fanwriters who say, "Oh, I'm lazy, I just made up the creatures/demons/whatevers in this fic" (particularly in the Supernatural fandom, but in others that involve crazy things, like the few times I've ventured into Buffy). Is this laziness? In my opinion, it's a lot easier for me to go to Wikipedia, type in "list of monsters" and click on Woodwose under Medieval England Beastiary and Heraldic Beasts than to go to all of the bother and energy to make something up wholesale. Thoughts? (On the other hand, lack of the research is why I don't do a lot of world-building fantasy reading because that is laziness. But researching the medieval world =/= clicking a Wikipedia link. My standards are way too high in that realm.)


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