It's no secret that I love fantasy. But when I write, my stories tend to take place in the real world. They'll have a fantastic element (or two or three!) but they're happening in ordinary places where you wouldn't expect to find magic of any sort. I like the idea that magic exists if you just know where to look. That guy you're sitting next to could become a werewolf when it gets cold. The girl in your class could be reading your mind, even if she doesn't know how she got this ability.
So if you've got these fantastic elements in your story, how do you keep it real? How do you make people believe this could happen to them?
For me, the key is to provide enough detail so that readers can relate, but not so much that it bogs down the story. For example, if I mention palm trees, island music and pink flamingos, you know you're not in Kansas anymore. Add some Coco Loco and you're sitting pretty, right?
I can spend weeks researching a place like Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. I may know when it was built and remodeled, who funded it, the schedule of events and seating capacity in the auditorium. But now your eyes are glazing over. None of those details are going to bring a story to life. So it's also important to know which details to include.
What's going on in your stories? What details are you using to keep it real?