In this journey of learning the writing craft, I have run across many new concepts. Concepts such as Structure, Plot, Scene, Conflict, Characterization, etc… But there is one that I am finding I don’t talk about often; however, I do it almost daily without even realizing it. It’s a concept called RESEARCH.
I firmly believe that without research, all writers would be in a world of hurt. I mean, who wants to read a novel about space flight and absolutely nothing about the space ship is realistic? How many people would continue buying our books if we wrote about the historic battles of Alexander the Great and didn’t know the name of Ptolemy I or that he was Alexander’s successor?
Without taking the time (and patience) to research what we are writing, we do a great disservice to our readers and to ourselves. Granted, in fiction there are some made up situations. That is, after all, the heart of fiction. However, it has long been stated that fiction, myths, and legends are all at their core, rooted in fact.
I won’t list all of the different types of research. I will leave that to my friend Mark Hopkins whom I spotlighted for the month of May. I will, though, point out a few things that I’ve found about research that I believe many novice writers either miss or just ignore.
Research can be fun! Most people hear the word and think it something to avoid like an erupting volcano. But like said volcano, there are wonderful things that can be discovered if we would just utilize a positive mindset, wisdom and above all patience. The erupting volcano can be indicative of goings on under the earth. The more geologists dig, the more things they uncover, next thing you know, they go down under the earth and find a hidden civilization (Ok, that’s fiction, but you know what I mean).
Research can open up a whole new world. I am currently researching Ancient Greece for use in a Sci-Fi series that I am writing. I’ve learned a lot about earth’s history and how ingenious, malicious and amazing people can be. I’ve gained new perspectives which have opened my mind to a universe of possibilities for not only the series that I’m working on, but for other stories as well.
Research can create relationships. Believe it or not, this is true. When you contact authorities on the subject you are researching, there is the possibility to meet and foster relationships with people you otherwise would never have gotten to know.
These are just a few of the advantages to research, aside from the obvious, having a well-written book. Look at your own research habits. Do you shy away from research or do you purpose to set aside time to do it? Do you see it as being as invasive as a root-canal or do you see it as an adventure that can take you to new places?
Make sure that research is a part of your writing life. Without it, you will not make it as a writer. With it, you will make it to a new level of knowledge, perspective and possibly even friendships.