Research And Fiction Writing

Time Spent Researching is an Investment

Research? No way. I’d rather have my wisdom teeth pulled. The word research brings back memories of school and homework. Studying dates and events in history, names of people long dead, and spending hours in the library writing a boring paper. That was then. This is now. Researching for fiction writing isn’t like doing research for school, it’s a fun investment in your own story.

The Journey

My favorite place to find the facts is the Internet. The moment I find the perfect information, I’m hooked and time stands still. I sit down at the computer to look up one little thing, and hours later I’m still reading and clicking links, lost in the journey. Every fact I can find about the history brings ideas for character development, setting description, and conflict. Now, I set a timer.

Research Builds Credibility

Writing fiction means I get to make everything up, right? Yes, and no. You create the story from your imagination, but nothing ruins it faster than little or no research. True life details give the story credibility. A historical romance with a young girl of noble birth, sipping wine at White’s. The doctor who throws his needles into the trashcan. A dry-cleaner in New York City on the corner of 45th and 3rd. These small details are incorrect and will push the reader out of the world you are trying to build. Your readers will know if you did your research. Your credibility is everything.

Don't be this guy.
Don’t be this guy.

6 Tips to Get Organized

Finding a place to start can be overwhelming. Don’t let the mountains of material scare you. These are a jumping-off point for some of the details I like to research before I start my story. They help me stay organized and save time. I use this list of facts throughout the entire story.

  • Time – Chose a year you want for the story. Past, present, or future.
  • Characters – Give them good names. A character in 1650 will not feel real if his name is Fred. People are basically the same everywhere, throughout time. We have fears, egos, jealousies, pride, and we fall in love. The experiences and conversations with the people around you every day can be used as research for building more realistic characters.
  • Setting – Historical London, anywhere today, or five hundred years in the future on a planet of your creation, the more realistic facts, the more real the story feels.
  • Clothing – The clothes your character’s wear can show the era, their social status, the season, give insights into their personality, and much more.
  • Transportation – How your characters travel is another way to add realism.
  • Housing – From a grass hut to a three-bedroom brick home, or a castle you can create a real-world with small details.

Weaving the facts into the story, a bit here a tad there, are what gives it life, capturing the reader and bringing them back for more of your writing.

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Find the Facts Here

I have scoured the Internet and gathered some interesting and useful websites to help you find answers and ideas for your stories. The more familiar you are with your era, setting, daily lives, and careers of your characters, the easier it is to pull your reader into the story without a history lesson, or an info-dump lecture.

If you didn’t enjoy writing fiction with the desire to become better, you wouldn’t be here. Turn your research into a fun experience. Grab a beverage, a snack, put your feet up, and check out my links. Let me know if any of the links are broken and I will fix the problem. Please share some of your favorite research links.

Have fun!

Everything historical I could find about America is here.

You need world history? It’s here.

Helpful links for genre writing. Links for writing in the present and the future. Links for writing tips and other odds and ends like tracking your submissions, cover art, and sites that let you know if a publisher or agent is a scam can be found here.

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Writing Prompt – February

One night is all you get.

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Tell us a story about one night with her. Start the story with this sentence. One night is all I get.

Please feel free to write a flash of no more than 1,000 words in the comments. I’d love to read them. Erotica writers please mark yours as adult before the story begins. Example: This is an adult erotica story.

 

Author Interview – Kristen Kooistra

012This week I wanted to introduce you to a really good fantasy writer, Kristen Kooistra. She is a stay-at-home mom who feels like she was probably born in the wrong era. Being home with her kids and doing things that most people her age would hate, means she has fun with life. She loves to dance to techno-pop, Star Wars, Renaissance Festivals, and Dr. Pepper is a weakness. If it involves fun on the water, she’s there jetskiing, swimming, or any water sport on a dare.

Continue reading “Author Interview – Kristen Kooistra”

Monday Madness – October

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The key to any successful story is balance. I found a great article on narration and show vs tell. This article has some great information on how to bring your readers closer to your characters and closer to your story. She gives examples of distance and closeness, which I think are wonderful. New writers and seasoned writers make these mistakes that are so easy to fix. Continue reading “Monday Madness – October”

How to Create Memorable Fictional Characters

1-1Have you heard of Huckleberry Finn? He’s been an unforgettable character since 1884. Memorable characters are what make stories great. They feel like real people, making the reader care about what happens to them.

You can have an engaging plot, cool stuff that happens, and tons of conflict, but if you don’t have a great character the readers can care about, your story is lacking. Love them or hate them, readers want to care about your characters. Continue reading “How to Create Memorable Fictional Characters”

POINT OF VIEW

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Whose Head Are We In?

Every story is told from a point of view. Who is telling the story? Which head is the reader in when they read the story? That’s the character point of view (POV). You can tell the story from one character’s head, more than one character, or the all-knowing, all-seeing hovering head.

No need for complication, no need to stress. All you have to do is decide who is going to tell the story, and then maintain that POV to the end. Easy peasy, right? Continue reading “POINT OF VIEW”