I don’t know about you, but I love a well-researched story. This can be historical fiction, or it can be a sci-fi thriller, space opera, or even a cozy romance. When an author puts in the work to sprinkle in nuggets of information, it’s like finding candy on Easter–or the equivalent to someone who never celebrated Easter (like this gal, you get what I’m say).
These precious pieces add real layers to the story, and depending on the genre are critical. Historical fiction is my home, and without building the solid foundation of research…well, my stories would crumble like sandcastles built by a toddler drunk on juice boxes. Do you need to spend six months on research? Maybe. If you’re planning on a generational epic like The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, then you may need a notebook full of detailed research. On the other hand, if you’re writing a contemporary short story, well you’re basically an expert on life right now. So you may have to do a quick search on a internet search, and you’re done.
I want to break down these tips into a few posts, as there are different steps to research.
To be fair, I loved research before I started this so called exotic life as an authoress. These tips come from a science background perspective.
- The internet is your friend, until it isn’t.
- Misinformation or wrong information is everywhere. Look at the sources. Are they reputable? If you question the authenticity of the information, delve deeper.
- Books aren’t dead.
- While this shouldn’t be a surprise, we always want the quick answer (hello internet). If you’re looking into something old, rare, local, or not in the mainstream, look for an old school book on the subject. Or, if you get lucky, it may be in the public domain, and you can find that gem on the internet thanks to a various projects to upload documents to the web. Check out Project Gutenberg or Open Library.
- Find an expert in the field.
- If you need a very specific question answered, why ask an expert. Is it on local history? You’ll be surprised how much people want to discuss their hometowns. Your MC is a barista, but you’ve got no idea how an espresso machine works. Next time you grab that double shot latte, ask the lovely person for a quick rundown. Again, people like to talk shop, and I like to listen.
See you in the next post, best of luck writing,