Research: The Hidden Plot Point
Inspiration is everywhere. It surrounds us in countless modern cultures that we can travel to or learn about easily. We can even speak with natives of those cultures with little effort. There are even civilizations throughout history, with books, movies, and shows to highlight them.
In Pokemon: Sun/Moon, Hawaii is used as the influence. There are four guardian spirits, each one known as a tapu. Tapu in the Maori culture means holy, or sacred, usually referring to a taboo.
Each guardian has a name similar to a Hawaiian word, and corresponds with a Maori deity. Tapu Koko is the rooster guardian. He is based on the feather deity, Ku. Ku is the god of war and conflict, which Koko pushes trainers to battle. Tapu Lele, the sacred butterfly, is based on Kane, the creator guardian. Lele is an excellent healer.
The guardians embody their inspiration in appearance (Koko looks like a rooster, and Lele looks like a butterfly coming out of chrysalis), in battle, and in their purpose in the story. Research shaped four major characters, as well as the way they interact with the player and world. It created the flow for plot points.
In my book, Drowning the Sands of G’desh, I researched Middle Eastern culture, focusing on Arabian Nights and the Torah.
Samson, the Israelite with great power for following God, inspired Dameneh. God fills the boy with the power to fight, giving him unnatural strength. However, when Dameneh strays from the tenants given to him by God, as Samson has his hair cut, he loses his power.
Azasheer was based on the Arabian concept of the djinn, combined with the blackamoor. He was self-serving, powerful, without a care for people. He was despised and feared because of the color of his skin. While he makes his own decisions, the start of his plot, along with how people treat him, are based on the djinn and blackamoor.
The Followers were based on the Torah and how Israel would fall away from God, while believing they were listening to his words. They gave into conquest for the sake of conquest, gave up rituals, brought in false idols, and were consumed by greed. They are the ebb and flow of Israel.
There are near infinite influences in this world, with cultures both expansive and thrilling. Our minds can only create so much when cut off from these influences. Find cultures you like. Bask in them as much as possible. Your worlds will explode, feel more alive, and you will have incredible stories that you alone could not have conjured.