You can never have too much research
Hi all, happy to be back here and chatting with you. I’m working on a little project where I’m trying to come up with great ideas about research. I’ve decided that it’s quite a beast of a project so I’m narrowing it down a bit. Here are the top ten things you need to know about researching a novel.
- You can never have too much research.
- You can research too much! Seriously, number one is spot on accurate, BUT if you spend all your time researching, you won’t be writing. And that’s a problem.
- Do some pre-research work to keep yourself on track. Write down what you need to know for the story. Whether it’s: Do I need a warrant to search a suspect’s home? Or…If someone has a bomb strapped to her neck, what kind should it be so I can disarm it and save the girl? Whatever your questions, write them down, then give yourself a time limit to find the answers. I guarantee you, it will keep you from getting lost in the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter trilogy of writerly word count death.
- If you have a question about something in your manuscript, and you don’t know of someone to ask, post your dilemma on social media and see if you can a good answer there. While I spend as little time on Facebook as possible, I do find it very beneficial upon occasion to ask a question and get feedback. Then be sure to double check the information you get from there, but honestly, I’ve never had it steer me wrong.
- Start saving to go to conferences. This is only if you take your writing seriously. I don’t mean that ugly or sarcastic, but if you’re serious about wanting to be published—especially by a traditional publishing house—then conferences in the early stages of your career are of utmost importance. Here is where you meet people. How does this have anything to do with research? I address that in number 5 below.
- Start building your database of contacts. Excel or Numbers are excellent tools that are far underused by a lot of writers. In my opinion. But, when you go to conferences, you’re going to meet some really cool people. They’re going to give you a business card. Snap a picture of it with your phone—just so you don’t lose it—then come home and enter all of the information in a database. One thing you don’t want to leave out is the occupation or specialty area. When I was at Killer Nashville a couple of years ago, I met so many intriguing people with the most awesome jobs. Like a bomb dog handler, a TSA agent, a border patrol agent, an FBI agent, and more. ALL of these people were willing to answer any questions I might have come up when writing my stories. Why? Because they want me to get it right. Especially if I’m writing about what THEY do.
- Travel if you can afford it. If you can’t, then you can still get the feel for your “place” or “setting”. Scour the internet for first-hand accounts of people who’ve been where you want to go—or at least want to write about. There are tons of travel bloggers who document their experiences. It’s almost as good as being there—especially if they post pictures to go with their words.
- Stock your bookshelf with books in your genre. If you write crime, read crime books. If you write romance, read romance books. Just make sure they’re by authors who have a reputable reputation for doing their
- Use Youtube. That site is a fountain of information for “how to” stuff.
- And last, but not least. Don’t forget about your local library. There are some great reference books there and it won’t make you go broke to read them.
Well, there you have it. My tips on research. I hope you find it helpful—and can possibly add to it! What suggestions or tips for research do you have?