So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?
I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?
Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.
I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.
The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.
I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?
Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.
For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.
For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.
Now. How do I do research?
It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?
So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.
But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.
Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.
Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.
But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.
You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).
If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.
Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.
Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.
If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.
Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?
I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)
Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.
Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.
Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.
IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.
Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…
Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.
If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.
Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.
So. There is my two cents on research.
2 thoughts on “Research as a writer”
Side note: took me 2 reads to determine that people were helping educate you ABOUT sniper rifles, and not the people educating you had sniper rifles pointed at you (until, presumably, you got it right) 😉
LMAO! I was a little het up when I wrote that. I’ll edit it… oh gods, that’s really amazing. No, I have a couple of military vets with a lot of experience using sniper rifles advising me on how not to fuck that up.
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