Research can be like a four letter word for some authors. However, here are some tips from author Olivia Night to make the sometimes daunting task a little more bearable.
When I started my very first novel, I knew immediately that I was going to need to do some a significant research. I knew nothing about the arms business, Sierra Leone or its vibrant customs and culture. Research was not something I had considered a necessity before I got serious about writing novels. But now it’s one of my favorite parts! (Dork Alert!)
Poorly researched novels stick out like sore thumbs and can sometimes communicate to the reader that the author just really didn’t care all that much to get things right, even if that isn’t the case.
Research can a dreaded task when writing, so here is a list of research tips that I live by.
Tip #1 – It is totally okay to type “(need information here)” in your manuscript as you are write instead of stopping at that moment and finding the answer you need. I do this quite frequently, especially if I am on a roll – so to speak. This leads naturally to the next tip.
Tip # 2 – Commit and then sit down and do the research. It’s much harder to get a clear picture of political environment of say, Tunisia, if you research five minutes here and ten minutes there. Tell yourself you are going to research the hierarchy of wolf packs for thirty minutes and research not only what you need but as much as you can.
Tip # 3 – Notes, notes, notes. Just doing a copy/paste into a new document isn’t going to actually give you the knowledge that you need to write. Or write well. Of course you want the information on hand when you need it but, you need to understand the information as well. At this point in our lives we are all pretty aware of how we best learn. Do that. Because it’s important to…
Tip # 4 – Do more than regurgitate information. It is pretty easy to spot information within a novel that is simply reworded or paraphrased from somewhere else. As the author of your book or series it’s important to have a real understanding of what you are writing about.
Tip # 5 – Google Earth! I have spent so much time on google earth. I want to get even the smallest details correct. This includes street names, landmarks and restaurants. I’ve used it to chart a hero and heroine’s trip from Hungary to Scotland, to describe the street view of downtown Asheville and to paint an accurate picture of the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia and Maryland for my most recent work, Bad Blood, with Crave Publishing
Tip # 6 – Ask questions. When I was researching human trafficking laws within the European Union tons of questions came to mind. I spent the time and researched to find those answers. Then when I was writing about the human trafficking ring in one of my novels the words just flew off the tips of my fingers. Of course, a lot of what I learned was not included, but that didn’t matter. I felt confident in my knowledge as opposed to nervous that I may be getting something wrong.
Research may not be the most favorite pastime, but it’s a necessary evil to create a well written book.
I think of it as a way to really immerse myself in my characters world. From that lens, it becomes fun!
ABOUT OLIVIA NIGHT
Olivia Night, a fictional character herself, has always been an avid reader and writer. She found the romance genre in college and has never been able to get enough. One sleepless night, the main characters of Book One in her Men of FTI eries sprang from her head fully formed. They demanded she tell their story; so she did. As they revealed themselves, so did two other intriguing characters. Those characters convinced her to give them their own books because their stories were worth telling too. And so Olivia suddenly became a romance author. When Olivia is not writing, she has the best job in the world, which, too, will remain a secret. In her free time, she reads, write, drinks wine, or is, most likely, out emulating Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Olivia lives in one of the most diverse and vibrant cities in the U.S.—Baltimore. She lives with her cat, whom she is convinced was a gladiator in his past life. Olivia plans to continue being awesome at this thing called life. Really, that’s her only goal.