Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diligence in Research

When I wrote the synopsis and outline for my new romantic suspense due to come out in June, I first thought of what peril I could throw my characters in, how they would react to it, and where I could set parts of the story. But I didn't realize in making an exciting and adventurous novel that I would have to do a TON of research.

Holy cow! I've done research for all of my books, but this one was intensive. I had to research

flying planes,

boats that are ocean worthy,

and Alaska.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. I had to research the ins and outs of border crossings, Native Alaskan tribes, and local law enforcement. I could keep going, but I think you get my drift. This novel was research intensive.

A writer needs to be diligent in doing research and seeking out the best available information that will strengthen your novel. Reliable sources are a must and there are several ways you can get them.

Internet . . .
The Internet is an author's best friend when researching key elements in a novel. When using the Internet, I try to get at least two reliable sources for whatever I'm researching. And here's a handy tip: always cut and paste your information into a Word document (or whatever word processor you use) with the url. This is key. That url will be your best friend if you ever have to back up what you've written.

Library . . . 
There have been times when I've had over fifty books checked out as I'm writing a novel. I remember when I wrote a book that took place in Rome 1 A.D. I constantly checked out one book for over two years. It was a pain, but I couldn't afford to buy such a book and it was a gold mine of information. I had to diligently mark my calendar when the book was due and even then sometimes I'd forget and have to pay a fine, but that library book strengthened the novel with rich detail I couldn't find anywhere else.

People . . .
Even with all the reading I'd done on piloting, boating and Alaska, some of my best research came from actually talking with a pilot, a boat enthusiast, and someone who actually lived in Alaska. They were able to give me human touches that I just couldn't get from books or the Internet. They were able to tell me what real people do, not just what is in textbooks.

Diligence in research can really payoff because it makes your book real.

How about you? What are some of the sources you use that helps you with research? 



  1. I spend a ton of time on research, too. I research everything I know I'll need before I begin. But I continue with other things throughout. It's a good thing I like doing it!

  2. I wish I was as organized as you are. I research before and while I'm writing a book. I'm always questioning. I guess that's a good thing, right?

  3. Libraries, books, even TV and movies, depending on the topic. I've always enjoyed researching :)

  4. Coleen:
    TV and movies are great for research. Though be careful. I was watching The Fugitive last night and remember the scene where the marshals had to keep Richard Kimball on the phone so they could trace the call...well they can trace a call instantly. Sometimes movies do things for more drama.




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