Morning all, I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.
Last week I was asked if I would do a post on researching for novel writing. I love the research stage of plotting and writing. I think you find more ideas and inspiration while researching as well as learning so much more about certain subjects. It is enlightening for us as people and as writers.
Research is so important when it comes to novel writing. While you can exercise a little artistic license, and twist things in the name of fiction, fundamentally you need to get things right. Portraying things properly gives more authenticity to your story and makes it more believable and enjoyable for readers. Online resources are abundant, with search engines and YouTube making it really easy to find answers to your questions. But there are other ways to research too. I’ve compiled just a few ways in which you can research for your novel, do comment below to add your tips, advice and thoughts!
1. Visit your novel’s location
I’ve spoken quite passionately before about reasons to visit your novel’s location. Being able to experience your character’s surroundings adds real authenticity to your story, and helps you get the facts right when you write about it. Even if your setting is fictional, you can spend time in similar settings. For examples, if your fictional world is based by the sea, or in the forest, or in an ancient city you can still visit similar places for inspiration.
2. Go to the library
When you are re-searching a particular subject it makes sense to turn to books for information. However, sometimes you don’t know exactly what book you need until you find it. This can make online book browsing difficult, but it is much easier in library. All you need to do is look in the right section, and you may find the perfect book on your subject matter. Not only that, but you can borrow books for free, which supports your local library and allows you to do all of your research for free.
3. Find research books for writers
It makes sense to read books on the matter you are researching, but sometimes these books can include more information than you need, which takes up too much of your time. In some cases you can find books specifically aimed at writer’s of a particular subject. My favourite, for example, is The Crime Writer’s Guide to Practice and Procedure by Michael O’Byrne. It cleverly summarises key elements of police procedure in a a layout specifically designed for writers. (Please note this book is for British Police Procedure). You may be able to find similar books in your subject area.
4. Watch documentaries
This is a great research method as it allows you to get away with watching TV while calling it work! I spoke about documentaries in my blog post about finding inspiration in TV and film, and they are certainly a great research method. Documentaries aim to provide clear and concise information with accurate facts and the added bonus of amazing footage. They are insightful and can help you really take a deeper look into the subject matter. All while curled up with a cup of tea and your notebook – ideal!
5. Talk to people
They say you should write about what you know, but that’s not to say you can’t get to know something else. If you aren’t entirely sure on the subject matter, speak to someone who is. For example, my current work in progress has a protagonist who is homeless. Thankfully, I’ve never been in this position myself, however I’ve spent a lot of time with people who have. Their insight and honesty is what inspired me to write my story, and give what I hope is a true account of what it can be like to live on the streets. If you need to know something, find someone with the answers. Many people will be happy to offer up a moment of their time.
I hope this has provided some useful information for those looking to research for their novel. Please comment below to share your thoughts and idea or contact me anytime.