The Early Stages: Research

I know this isn’t something I mentioned in my previous post, but that’s probably because research, to me, is a unique part of the early stages of writing. While it coincides with the other three steps of preparing to write the story, it is a large task all its own. And possibly the most important part of prepping your story.

Many people, writers and non-writers, suggest writing what you know. But if that’s all you write, eventually the writing get boring, even for the writer. Even for those who have experienced a lot in life, it can be difficult to simply write what you know. Especially if you’re drawn to write in a genre you have no experience with.

Personally, I write what interests me, and somewhere in the story will be sprinklings of what I know. Hints of personal experiences that I can adapt to the story to give it that little extra bit of realism. But many of the stories I wrote in the past had a decent bit of research behind them, and a lot of world building to incorporate said research.

Carving out a period of time during your writerly work day to research various aspects of your novel is probably one of the most important things you can do. If you have no clue about how an army functions, and you have to write about a war in your novel, that lack of knowledge will shine through to the readers. If your main character is an inventor and master engineer, but you don’t know engineering, then that’s what you need to study.

The only downside to all the research you do is that you can’t use it all. Most stories you write will be for general consumption, and you may have learned all the technical terms for engineering, but your readers likely haven’t. Which means that, unless you have two engineering characters talking to each other, the use of technical terms will be just that, technical. Becoming an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics overnight for the sake of your novel is one thing. Expecting your readers to do it is another.

 

~Kyoma Rose

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