Writing Wednesday; Research…

Writing Wednesday

Wednesday is the day I share what I’ve learned on my journey from writing, publication, marketing; and doing it all again, and again. The kind of information I wish someone shared with me back when.

Research:

Everything you write whether it’s an article, essay, blog post or a book it needs to be researched. Getting your facts straight, whether your work is fiction or nonfiction will make your story believable and increase your credibility as a writer.

When it comes to most things in my life I’m a planner. Once I get deep into a manuscript I switch to pantser mode but until then it’s all about the plan. Part of putting a book or project plan together includes research.

A student in a class I was teaching said research is so easy today because of Google. While there is an unlimited amount of information online it isn’t all factual. Getting facts wrong will quickly ruin your reputation.

Including technology in your fiction work can be 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.

The standard rule for research is three respected sources. Try not to fall into the habit of simply using search engines and going with the first thing that comes up because everything on the internet isn’t necessarily factual. When doing internet research be sure to use trusted, well respected sites.

Putting together a research plan:

Determine Which Questions you Answered?

If your main character is an attorney you’ll 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, bring them to life for your reader.

You want to get your story surroundings correct too. If you are writing about actual places, visit those places 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.

Has the place been featured in a movie? If so watch those scenes.
Your list of questions will most likely grow as you get into the actual writing of your manuscript. Use brackets in your manuscript to add questions as they pop up. Allow time for research in your writing schedule.

Gathering Information:

Read everything you can find on your topics and keep careful notes making sure you keep track of the source of your information. Include Google, books and blogs. If you will need to interview professionals, make a list of contacts and before meeting with them gather as much information on what they do and make a list of questions, you want to ask them.

Digging Deeper:

Yes, libraries offer great research resources but like the internet just because it’s 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. Nearly all libraries have an actual person whose job is to assist with research. They are an invaluable resource.
Librarians talk to one another on and offline and libraries are still the number-one book buyers in the world. They can be a valuable support system once your book is released.

Creating your Research Plan:

Once you feel you’ve got a good list of questions and an idea of resources to find the answers, put a schedule together. You may get overwhelmed by all the information you find so do your best to stick with your schedule and keep your research organized with colored file folders.

Tips:

When I’m writing about the beach I keep seashells and sand in a vase along with photos of the ocean and beach sunsets on my desk. If I’m writing about a person, I keep photos of them close by. When I was writing The Stranger in My Recliner, the true story of an 80-year-old homeless woman my husband brought home one night, I kept a can of peas, (she insisted I put them in her eggs, it was gross,) photos and her tattled old pocketbook on my desk. It helped with the showing verses telling in my writing big time!

Happy Writing, (and researching)
Doreen

 

One Response to “Writing Wednesday; Research…”

  • Excellent post. I never really thought about the technology dating a story. I have worried about trying to write a recent historical (say the 80s) and getting the period stuff wrong. Even though I lived it, I forget the details and like you say, details matter.

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