Today’s blog is about the necessity of research. As an author you will need to do a great deal of research.
With that in mind, let’s take a look.
We are not dealing with research resources today, but rather the necessity and the how of research.
Proper research is exceedingly important. Whether you are dealing with historical figures, places or events, or you are simply dealing in outright fiction you need research.
Imagine, if you will, that you are writing a novel that takes place in Pontiac, Michigan. Now most people have never been there, but I spent a good deal of my life in that city. Now let’s imagine that you write about a small family living on Main Street. Now the main street of Pontiac is Huron or M59. It is rarely called Main Street and I don’t believe there are any signs identifying it as such. So right there, I have caught an error. But it is a small error and I will probably forgive you.
But let’s also pretend that you create an imaginary street that crosses the main street. The chances of you getting that right without proper research would be extremely hard! You see what I am getting at? To a resident or former resident that would stand out. And it would distract that reader from the actual story!
Now that was a very simple example, but it is real enough. Not only would residents of Pontiac see the error, but any reader curious enough to Google the city could also discover the error.
And errors can not only distract they can cripple an otherwise well-written book. Research can save you much embarrassment.
How to Do Research?
In this day and age there are many tools that you can use, but I am going to focus on one: the Internet. There are a growing number of search engines on the Internet, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. I use Google simply because I like it better than the others. My point is however that search engines are available.
In the example above, I could have Googled Pontiac Michigan and found a ton of information covering its history, industry, politics, and its geography. So using the Internet is both available and informative. This simple technique can be used on virtually any topic. Try it and you will be rewarded with more information than you know what to do with. But be careful. There is good and bad information. The Internet is not discerning. The information is there, but it may be entirely wrong.
I have written on resources in the past, so check out either this blog or Writers World, a free newsletter on writing. I write articles on this and other topics pertinent to writing. Finally, after researching for the book, don’t just state the facts. Weave the facts throughout the story so that the reader is learning all about whatever your subject happens to be. In fact, relay the facts through your characters.
What do I mean? This is answered in another blog more thoroughly, but basically the characters, in the preceding example, would talk about the city. Or they could be walking along a street and the reader would thus become acquainted with the street and its surroundings.
Research is a vital tool in the writing of both fiction and nonfiction. Make it a habit to do the proper research and then incorporate it in a way that the reader is unaware that you are spoon feeding her.