Research isn’t only for writers of historical fiction or non-fiction. All writing can benefit from research. Non-fiction writers usually rely on finding facts, but if one thinks that fiction stories don’t need research since the story is made up, misses an opportunity to enhance the story. Doing the research earlier than later in the writing process is recommended to prevent rewriting sections that might prove to be inaccurate.
The writer who embeds researched details leads the story into deepened characterization, setting, and plot points. The authenticity hooks the reader and expands the reader’s experience. The internet makes research quick and easy, but additional methods create more true-to-life feelings. When possible travel to the sites where the story takes place. Interview people who know more about the subject and locations than you do. Talk to a librarian who can help you find additional interesting information.
Elaine Schmitz, author of Recipes & Recollections of My Greek-American Family, is writing a novel that takes place in San Francisco. Last weekend she and her friend, Lani Longshore, author of When Chenille is Not Enough, had an entertaining day looking for sites where the protagonist, Sarah, goes in San Francisco. This photo is Lani in Sarah’s favorite church, St. Francis of Assisi, in North Beach.
To find suspects: Sarah plies them with Happy Donuts: give me your name and contact info and grab one.
How do you research for your stories and novels?