Ooh, dull, you say. You like research?!?
I can't count the number of new things I've learned, lots of which have nothing to do with the story I'm writing, but which lodge in the back of my mind and will probably find their way into a story someday. I discover so many new facts that are absolutely fascinating, all in an effort to "do right" by the story. I need to be sure my facts are correct.
But it's fantasy, you say. Can't you just make stuff up?
I could, and I do. But writers who've gone before me have laid a groundwork that I treat as "real," for one thing. For example, one of the books I'm working on now is a Young Adult fantasy called The Rift. It concerns the intersection of magic, technology, and mythology (among other things). In one scene I'm working on, two orcs appear and capture Tom, the protagonist. (Orc is another name for a goblin--an ugly, fanged humanoid.)
Besides being a writer, J. R. R. Tolkien was a philologist (one who studies language in written historical sources), and he created a number of languages in his middle-earth series of novels. In one of his letters, Tolkien wrote that his work was "fundamentally linguistic in inspiration. [. . .] The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes ﬁrst and the story follows. I should have preferred to write in ‘Elvish’."
Should I concern myself with this? I don't know, but I do, just as I want to be sure the way magic works in my world adheres to at least the best principles of magic (those I agree wtih) that others have set down in the past. I have my own twists -- I'm not copying so much as using the "reality" they already laid as a foundation for my own work.
What I love most about the research process is where it leads.
I began researching around 8 a.m. An hour later, I find myself having learned a fair amount of Orcish, and feeling silly, but so very happy. Now my orcs can say to Tom, "Krimpol ash pushdug," and while he'll have no idea what they said, I feel good, knowing the second orc will understand and "bind the dung-filth," as he should.
Now back to the story . . .