Writing Tips for Budding Writers – Research
While these writing tips have assisted people I’ve coached, I do not offer any guarantees. I merely hope it might help stoke the fire burning within and get you started on a writing journey.
Today I’m going to talk about Research. Research is a vital part of story writing. Even if you are writing a contemporary story some research will be required. In my next to be published romance story “Leath’s Legacy” I needed a reason for the hero to be desperate to buy a piece of property. I made it the childhood home of his Alzheimer’s ridden father. Even though the man himself played little part in the story, I needed to research the symptoms of this terrible affliction to make the story plausible.
Don’t scoff at the need to write accurately. Readers are very informed and knowledgeable. To make just one mistake in a story is to risk losing a reader. I can give you an example of this. If you’ve read my profile on this site, you’ll know I’m a rugby football fanatic. A few years ago Mills & Boon had some arrangement with the English Rugby Union to write some romance stories with Rugby playing heroes. Two of my loves, reading romance stories and rugby all at once, I was thrilled and grabbed the first one I saw. Within pages I’d thrown the book aside. The author had written about a game, the score being 2-1 with the heroes team celebrating the win. The lowest score possible in rugby is 3. This writer knew nothing about the sport she was supposedly writing about, and neither did the publisher care. They appeared happy to ride along on the coattails of someone else (ie the English Rugby Union) without taking a moment to ensure they were giving accurate detail. It might sound petty, but I never read another in this series and I never noted the author’s name for future reading. I didn’t trust her writing because she decided research wasn’t necessary.
Know every little thing about the setting of the story you’re writing. If you’re writing historic, never forget your readers will be history nuts and well able to see if you make a mistake with clothing, tools, attitudes of the day. Fantasy is not so hard as you can develop your own world, but again, you must be careful that world is believable and consistent from beginning to end.
I made probably 20-30 pages of notes about Alzheimer’s disease for Leath’s Legacy. I copied pieces from library books and the internet. I visited the Alzheimer’s Society in Wanganui and talked at length with volunteers there. I questioned a friend with an inflicted parent. I spent at least two weeks gaining some understanding so I could confidently write 5 or 6 sentences in my 65,000 story.
Never scrimp on the time needed for research.