By Harley D. Palmer
Research is a huge thing for writers and something not to be taken lightly. I have met people who think only fantasy, sci-fi, and historical writers have to do research but that is NOT true!
In one of my recent works, “The Story of William Archer” I had to do extensive research for his world. The biggest search was about pirates! I also had to find information about medieval knights, and a few other small things (like Victorian era technology for cameras, “vehicles”, etc.)
I love doing research! It is a huge high for me. It inspires so much of my writing! I was looking up pirate ships terms and in figuring out what type of ship William Archer has, I was able to craft an entire scene (as I figured out what type of ship the enemy had) – and voila. Instant fight scene fell right before my eyes. My research will allow me to write a realistic fight scene.
And that’s the key with research people – realism! I would hate to read a novel and have the person describe a weapon or a ship or something in the wrong way.
But wait Harley, with some genres you can make it up! Sure you can. But how can you make something made-up seem real without a bit of research into the field? Sure you can make up some super futuristic weapon – but if you know NOTHING about guns how can you make it seem real and believable to your readers?
Research for me is a hunt of buried treasure. Invariably, I always find a brand new nugget of information that I didn’t know I was looking for or didn’t know I needed. I get excited as I learn new things and fill up my research notebook. Why a notebook? Well what if I need to use the same information later on, in another book? My research time for that new project is cut in half since I already did the research!
Make sure you take the time to search for your buried treasure. There is a wealth of information out there so make sure you get your hands on some. Your writing will be the better because of it and your readers will love you for it. It is NOT a waste of time – if anything it saves you time.
So, go out there and make time. Check out books at the library or “google it”. The internet is full of treasure chests of information – USE IT!
And of course in the end have fun. I have found that if my research begins to put me to sleep, I might need to rethink my need to put it in the story. This is true for me, and may not apply to everyone of course – but I stop and rethink if the research gets boring. If it’s boring during the research phase, I’ll be bored when I write it. And THAT ladies and gentlemen is a waste of time.