May 24, 2009


I have a thing for research. This serious relationship evolved over many years. That first tingle of excitement happened on the day I walked into the main branch of the public library. I fell in love with the knowledge that I needed to use the elevator to reach all the books I wanted to check out. No more tiny school libraries or even branch libraries for me. I had discovered my home away from home.

During my childhood I was never without a book to read. As a young adult I let real life take priority but found my interest renewed with the birth of my children. When my children were too old for me to read to them I returned to my old voracious reading habits. But I soon realized, just reading fiction was no longer enough. I trolled the stacks looking for something to catch my eye and was mesmerized by the non-fiction section.

Most of my story ideas come from a piece of information or a moment in history that I have come across when reading non-fiction.

I always start my searches with the original and still the best place to go for information, your local library. There is always someone there to help you out. The research section in most libraries is unique to each location and the non-fiction by state section will carry books with the history of the particular area you are in.

Libraries now have all their books listed on an online catalog system. You can request a book from any city, county or state branch and have it delivered to your local branch. You could even have it delivered to your front door. This makes it so easy for me to check out books from the comfort of my own computer.

A large part of my research is done online. The speed and access we have to information increases almost daily. One big rule to follow online is to always have more than one source to back up your information. There are so many sites that are full of just the right type of information you are looking for.

The best and most desired way to do research is to visit the location of your story. If this is not possible then the library and online are again the best resources for travel information on your setting.
Another way to find out more on a subject or profession is to interview someone with the knowledge. Remember to come prepared with a list of question.
With all this new research at your disposal remember the number one rule. Don't overpower your work with the details and lose the idea you started out with.
Do you love it or hate it? What are your best research tips?


At May 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM , Blogger Jackie said...

I relate:) I can get lost in libraries in the "real" world and online. It is like a parallel universe.

One of my favorite parts of writing is finding out the stuff I need to make my story realistic--but you're right, we can't let ourselves get so mesmerized by all the pretty tidbits, we forget our purpose, research for the STORY, lol. Good post June

At May 26, 2009 at 2:18 PM , Blogger Sunny Frazier said...

When do you stop "researching" and write the book? That seems to be the problem many writers fall into. It's much more exciting to research and construct the book in your head than actually put words on paper. The latter requires thinking.

Also, you have to control the tendency to throw all that hard-earned reseach into the novel. I might look up a dozen things just to put in one sentence on the subject.

I research, but I often wait until I hit a point in the story that needs filling out. For short stories, a quick search can trigger an idea.

At May 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM , Blogger Dorinda Ohnstad said...


Research is my least favorite part of writing. I would prefer to write and leave the research to someone else. It is invaluable for making sure that the story is authentic, but I would just assume let someone else find the information for me.

My perfect writing world would be to afford to hire someone to do the research for me.


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