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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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”

Genre/Present/Futuristic/Odds and Ends

Science Fiction

space

One Stop Shop for Everything Scifi                                             Create a Language
Planet Creation Kit                                                                          Superpowers
Technology Created by Science Fiction                                      Create a World
Scale of the Universe

Fantasy/Paranormal/Horror
Magical World Building                                                        Astrology
Fantasy Animal Creation                                                     Fairies
Werewolf Myths and Truths                                                Fairy History
Vampire History                                                                    Witchcraft
Vampire Time Line                                                               Witch Dictionary
Vampire Glossary                                                                 Writing Horror
Legendary Creatures                                                            Make it Scary
How to Create Horror

Romance and Erotica

romantic

Getting Started                                               Writing Good Romance
Keys to Conflict                                             It’s Not All About Sex
Couple Development                                            Sex in Fiction
12 Stages of Physical Intimacy                   Erotic Thesaurus
When Women Flirt                                             What Not To Do
When Men Flirt

Mystery/Suspense/Action/Thriller
Tips for Writing Mystery                                                          Resources
Solving the Murder                                                                   Writing Mystery
Writing Suspense                                                                       Creating Suspense

The Human Body

human_body_3677x2285

Interactive Map of the Human Body                                   Bugs and Bodies
Forensic Science                                                                     Rigor Mortis
Forensic Research help                                                     Decomposition
The Body Farm

Law and Law Enforcement

Badge, Gun and Handcuffs

Crime Scene Investigation                                                                  State Police
Legal Terms and Definitions                                                              Gun Control
Homeland Security – Federation of American Scientist                     FBI

Publishers and Agents – Scam or Real                          Track Submissions

Preditors & Editors                                                                       QueryTracker
Writer Beware                                                                                   Duotrope

Odds and Ends
Currency Rates and Converter
Etymology of Words
Etymology Dictionary
Google Earth
Cliché Finder
Everything Writing Related
Create Stronger Stories 
The Midwest Book Review