RESEARCH – Digging In For Results

images_006How do you research information for your novel? This one word covers a lot of territory. Let’s begin with a thought.

You have pictures playing in your mind. You see a movie with your characters running wild, but who are they? Where are they? Are they from the modern era or do you notice a difference in their clothing? Are they running to or away from someone or something? Will this new novel be a work of fiction or non-fiction. You stop and look at all the scribbles on the sheet of paper beside you. Where to start?

FICTION:  Start with the research of your settings/locations. If you are writing a fiction novel, you need to decide about the genre. Do you want the novel to take place in a well-known city? If you are writing historical romance, you need to research the area you want to place your characters. How about a science-fiction or future adventure? These require different research material.

Some writers/authors travel to the setting they want to use. Each street name, location of a certain store, building, or highway must be accurate. One of your first readers may be from the area you use. One mistake and credibility is out the front door. Even if you lived there, at some point in time, things change. Do your research online, at the library, write to the City Chamber of Commerce for information and brochures. Check with the state for current information. You can never have enough notes. Then your job becomes harder to separate what you want to use or discard. Just be certain to keep all your notes.

If you want to make up your setting for a fiction work, you can do this. You love the area and state of XXXX. This would be a great place to have a suspense, thriller, complete with a love triangle. You still have to research online about the state and all of its components. The research is the same, except you get to make up your city. Check and recheck city names within the state you want to use. You cannot have duplications. You can even make up a name for your fiction city, as long as nothing like it exists in the state records. This is the fun part. It is your fiction city to do with what you please, within reason. You need to make this city real and a place someone would want to live, work, play, and . . .”

Oh, you want to write a paranormal or sci-fi novel. Research is still the only way to get your setting in place for your story. Read other works. Watch movies, both old and new, and television shows. Take good notes on everything you read or see. Be certain your language fits. You will need to research the vocabulary used between the characters and whatever they are flying in, from or to.

NON-FICTION:  This requires the same tedious research. Accurate settings and information is an absolute. You are aware of your character(s), but what about the time period? Check libraries for picture details in the period. Go online and Google the dates you need, say 1800’s, and gather information on clothing, music, homes, work, politics, or whatever else you may need. Then gather information on your character(s). If you have a personal reference, be certain to take good notes and keep them in order. If this non-fiction work turns into a memoir, check the legalities in using names, places and events. Always double-check your information when a family member tells you events. You need to know if the events happened in a specific way or how the person remembers the events. The difference here is truth vs. memories.

Research is tedious work. As a writer, you will gain knowledge and expand your characters’ lives. Your stories will come alive for your readers. This is what authors want.

Happy Research.