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How to Research For a Book You're Writing

Know how to dig a little deeper

by Aaliya Shah

Every book you read probably has a very high probability of being subjected to a lot of research and meticulous planning that went into writing it. As an author, it is essentially their job to tell a story, create worlds that allow people to escape into them seamlessly, to have the ability to make their readers feel as though they have entered into an alternate universe.

However, to do that, authors must keep in mind to thoroughly research the genre of the book that they are writing. If you know only vaguely about a topic and decide to write with the help of the bare minimum knowledge that you have, it can lead to gaps in your writing and confuse your plot. Research is a fundamental tool in writing a novel.

Learning and finding out in-depth about a topic that you wish to write about can give you the power of being able to let your readers resonate deeply with your characters and dive into the theme of your book easily.

Sometimes, along with researched material, using your personal experiences, the lessons you learnt throughout your life can be utilized for information since they are real-life situations that have taken place. Such details can add a potential "reality aspect" to the novel and add to the reader's imagination. As a human, you may not be able to possess supernatural powers, be able to do wizardry or even come in contact with such beings. That is what makes it fiction, the bizarre ability to do anything out of the ordinary yet keep it slightly believable for it to not be a far stretch from reality.

Although as an author, with the help of your imagination and proper research, the possibilities are endless. There are a few methods one can follow as a writer that will help beginners turn into experts when it comes to research.

  • The power of planning and having an outline

Every writing task you have had or have has to start somewhere. No matter how clueless you are, starting with a basic plan and outlining your piece on the chosen topic or theme is the first step to beginning your research.

Once you have a basic idea of what you want to work on, having a structure of how to go about researching for it can contribute to a more organized pattern in your process. It is extremely important to have an outline, for this reason, the affair of researching can be a very exhausting task especially if you don’t have a clear idea of where you can start.

Jotting down a deadline to solidify the end of research time, so you can get started on the format of your book is another vital aspect you should take care of. Going overboard with the research can lead to confusion and the desire to include too many details while writing the book, so prolonging the process could be detrimental.

  • Use resources from everywhere

Making use of just google or the internet, while it would drastically help in your research, can narrow your vision of the book. Sounds weird? To elaborate, even though every possible piece of information can be found on the world wide web, talking to people who have knowledge about the subject, reading books on the topic and listening to podcasts.

Reaching out to get information from people is one of the best resources one can get since it would be based on their experiences, it would greatly contribute to the authenticity of the book. Who knows, having conversations with these people might give you further ideas not essentially restricted to the plot, contributing to the characters, setting and more.

  • Inspiration is all around you

Everyone states that if you’re feeling stuck while writing instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, go outside and glance around, you might just find it. Similarly, if you do catch yourself staring at your screen, not knowing which direction to head in, taking a break might not be the worst idea.

Going for a walk and simultaneously listening to a podcast or talking to someone who might be able to help you with the current block that you’re facing, could just inspire you. Looking around your surroundings would help with the setting you are struggling with or you might just see some interesting people who could contribute to the character description you were having trouble with.

Briefly mentioned above, reading books on the topic will increase your understanding of it but it will also give you an additional resource to look toward when writing.

  • Curiosity is your best friend

As children, we are curious about everything, that is how our knowledge and intellect increases as we grow older. Adapting that method in your research is an idea one should give serious consideration to. The “Who, What, When, How and Where” can be the main questions you jot down as you begin your research. To answer them should be your first priority as they would unravel the entire plot of the novel and put everything in place.

Suppose your plot revolves around a murder; the person who died, what the reason was, when did this happen, how and where did it take place. These will be the plot points that your writing should outline and focus on. If you go through a real incident that took place similar to your plot, it would help your research greatly. The more the story progresses, the deeper you need to dive into your research and cross check every detail to make sure nothing is the same but also that it is not too far from the truth as well.

  • Time is money so make sure you spend it wisely

When you have a deadline to meet, every hour, minute till then is accounted for. As a writer, you need to decide if you want to complete your entire research process before you start the book or take it chapter by chapter. Almost every author might think that the former is the better option and in hindsight it may be, but doing most of the extensive research in the start and then writing your book, doing some basic research on the side may not be the worst idea.

Researching as you write may give you new and fresh ideas for your novel as you will keep discovering something new as you go forward. Creativity is a continuous process that can come to you at the vaguest of times so be on the lookout for any ideas whenever and wherever you are. Setting deadlines while writing a book might just be the most efficient way to get things done, even if it is a self-set date as long as one knows that they have to finish a certain amount by then.

Hence, time can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Depending on how serious you are about your research and the novel you are writing.

  • Interest above all

Interest in anything can instantly increase one’s likeability level to the highest when doing something. Just like that when you write about something you like or are interested in, the words seem to flow more easily from your mind to the page. Interest leads to inspiration that can automatically lead to a better understanding of the subject or genre that you are researching.

For instance, if your level of interest is higher in the fantasy genre than romance, which may be the more popular genre at that moment. Now, rather than forcing yourself to jump on the bandwagon and write romance, choose fantasy.

It will make you much happier while researching for the genre you like and get excited about than just something that is popular. It can also be visible in your research because the deeper you dig will depend on that.

  • Organizing can go a long way and grant credit where it is due

Just like it is important to outline your research, it is also crucial to compile and organize every bit of information that you have collected. By doing this, it’ll make the process of categorizing resources much more seamless. When the time comes to start working on your novel, you’ll find what you need at that moment with ease.

In addition, all the resources you have used for your research, whether it may be books, articles on the internet, people you have spoken to about for your story and more, should be cited and given credit at the end. Without their help, your novel wouldn’t have come to life. Therefore mentioning them once you are finished writing is an essential thing to do.

The methods mentioned above are just a stepping stone to help you begin the tedious task of what your days will consist of when writing a novel. A few small elements to keep in mind during the research process:

  • Get your basics in order, have a rough idea of how and what you want your plot to be like and research according to that so it is easier to build on your story.

  • Have a fixed time period and location to set your novel in. Relevancy of the year and the place matters more than you assume it does.

  • Try your best to include all kinds of characters in your book as that gives a certain diversity to your plotline and could catch the attention of your readers. It also might separate you from an author who writes in the same genre.

At first, the idea of diving into writing a book based on a genre that you barely know about may seem daunting and you may want to abort the mission, since it is not a piece of cake. However, once you get past that initial uncomfortable feeling and stick to the task at hand, you might be surprised at how much you enjoy writing about a new topic.

Furthermore, researching topics that are outside of the ordinary for you expands your knowledge and broadens your imagination. Breaking your barriers when it comes to creative and artistic aspects is sometimes required as it is something that challenges you and pushes your boundaries, which is a wonderful way to grow and move forward.


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