August 22, 2018- Research when writing (even/and especially fiction) is very important. As fiction writers, we’ve all been given the advice to write what we know. Well, we can’t possibly know everything there is to know about any given situation, so that’s why we research!
People often assume that because you’re writing fiction, you can make everything up! This, of course, isn’t true. Research comes in handy when we are writing about things we don’t know about and about things we’ve never experienced. For example, if your main character is a brain surgeon, and you’re not, I suggest that you do sufficient research before you embark on your novel. There are so many questions that you need to ask yourself and that’s why it’s imperative to make a list of what you need to know.
Let’s assume that your main character is a mechanic for example. Here’s a sample of questions that you need to research:
- Where does my character work?
- What does he look like?
- What does he wear to work?
- What does his work entail?
- What is the vocabulary he would use?
- What tools does he use on a regular basis?
- What does a mechanic’s shop look like from the inside?
You’d be amazed about the places I’ve been able to visit while researching my book! I’ve been taken on private tours of locations, colleges, hospitals, emergency rooms, jails, schools, countries, and countless other places! I’m so fortunate that people are willing to help with the research and I thank them by acknowledging them in my books.
You get the picture. Research, research, research ESPECIALLY if you are writing about locations!
I do caution my crime/thriller authors to write about cities that they HAVE visited before. It’s hard to write about a location accurately if you’ve never been there. Let’s say that they’re writing a thriller that’s based in New York; if they’ve never been to NYC it will be hard to mention landmarks and to get the locale just right, not to mention they’ll miss the essence which is huge. Anyone who lives in New York that reads the book, will be ticked off by the inaccuracies and may stop reading as soon as the author’s credibility is shot.
If you do choose to write about a place you’ve never visited before, you need to research the hell out of it. What do the streets look like? Where do they intersect? What is the population like? How is it segmented? What is the weather like? Are there major landmarks that you need to be aware of? Does the entire town shut down at ten in the evening or is there amazing nightlife, is it the city that never sleeps? And the list goes on and on. This is why it’s much EASIER to write about places you’ve been.
Writing fiction is fun, but it is a lot of work! Don’t lose your credibility because you didn’t do your research; this is the fastest way to lose readers forever.