On Wednesday’s I like to share information I picked up on my path to publishing, marketing and preparing to publish again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.
Everything you write whether it’s an article, blog post or a book it needs to be researched. I start a file for research as soon as I have an idea for a story. Getting your facts straight, whether your work is fiction or nonfiction will make your story believable and increase your credibility as a writer.
If your main character is an attorney you will need to research the lingo, perhaps the actual trial process and even the education process. How did the character get where they are? If you know an attorney, interview them. If you don’t know one try asking your friends and family if they happen to know one. This goes for any profession you may need information on. The extra effort will give your characters more depth and make them much more believable, it will make them real.
You want to get your story surroundings correct too. If you are writing about actual places go there if possible and write what you see. If you can’t physically get there look closely at photographs and read as much description as you can find.
The standard rule for research is three sources. Try not to fall into the habit of simply using search engines and going with the first thing that comes up. Go deeper. Was the location used in a movie or TV show? If so watch those clips.
Remember everything on the internet isn’t necessarily factual. When doing internet research be sure to use trusted, well respected sites.
Technology is tricky. ‘They’ say not to pigeonhole your book to any certain time period. It’s so easy to do that with technology. Imagine you’re reading a YA novel and the characters are discussing My Space. Most of us know what that is but will teenagers in five-years have any idea what My Space is? It may be easier for nonfiction writers to include the actual tech info but for fiction you may want to come up with fictitious names and descriptions for technology.
Libraries offer great research resources but like the internet just because it is in print doesn’t make it true. Always cross reference with several sources. It’s always a good idea to spend time in several of your local libraries and get to know the staff. They can be a great resource for you once your book is published. Librarians talk to one another on and off line and libraries are still the number-one book buyers in the world.
Try to keep your research organized (I really need to take that advice.) It is so frustrating knowing you have an article or some other piece of information and not being able to find it when you need it. You also want to keep detailed information on where you got your information in case someone needs to be credited.