Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 1 month ago

How do you do research for your novels?

I love doing research and maybe that's part of the problem. But I end up with way more information than I need. I get interested in what I'm reading

 and seem to get pulled off track clicking on various things. So at least half my research time gets wasted. Plus, I never know how much research I need to do.

Any advice for this? Thanks

3 Answers

  • Speed
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Bearing in mind that everyone has their own methods, and whatever works for a person is right...

    I first plan the novel at a pretty close level of detail. This helps me figure out specifics I need to know. My current one, I learned about the flora and fauna of a place where the main character has a remote home, prison sentences for a particular crime, infertility causes and treatments, body building, steroids, woodcarving, high-end SUVs, what goes on backstage at Saturday Night Live, drugs used to treat depression, and lots more. I used nearly every bit of it. Sometimes it was simply the right word--there's a difference between a body that's "cut" and "defined"--and other times I needed considerably more detail.

    As I write, I always find there are more things I need to know. I don't stop to research every little thing. Instead I put what I need in brackets and capitals. Examples: "Today I broke [GOOD TIME FOR 10K] minutes," he announced. "It'll take at least [TRAVEL TIME MUNCIE TO TOPANGA CYN, 300-400 MILES A DAY, NOT USING INTERSTATE HWYS] days to get there."

    Later, when I'm editing, it's easy to look up exactly what I need and avoid more detail than I want.

    What I try hard not to do is go down those rabbit holes leading me to far more background and research that's interesting but doesn't help my novel. I'm not writing and researching to entertain or educate myself. This is a known pitfall and I can't let myself fall in.

  • 1 month ago

    Some of this may help:

    1. You'll do a lot of research (and writing) that won't end up in your final story.

    2. Research enables you to write settings, scenarios, and characters that are realistic and accurate. How much research you need to do depends on how much you don't know and how much detail you need to include based on the type of story you are writing.

    3. The plot always drives what is or is not included in a story. What is the "world" in which your story takes place? What jobs or abilities or knowledge do your characters have?  How are those important or essential to the plot or action of the story? How much knowledge/experience do you have in those subject areas?

    5. Going down a rabbit hole or getting off track is really about a lack of discipline, but it can be very instructive and may provide a seed for another story. If you are on a real deadline, you just have to focus.  If you aren't a deadline, feel free to learn about related things.

    As an example if you are writing about a neurosurgeon and you know nothing about that, you'll have to do a lot of primary research to even figure out what things might be described or covered in your story.  The same is true if you want to write about Seattle in 1865 if you don't know the history of the area or you've never actually visited the area.  

    For novice writers, it is often a good idea to write what you know. Place your characters in the world/environment that you inhabit and know.  Create chapters that are similar to yourself or people you know well.  This minimizes the amount of research you'll need to do.

  • 1 month ago

    I do not think you can ever have enough research(that might be problem with my writing tho).

    This is obviously dependent on what genre, subject it is and weather or not your novel is written within pre-existing realm or if it is standalone.

    You should keep all the research filed somewhere so that you can pull on it whenever you are writing on similar subject - hence the initial response. Just have strong filing system and you'll be fine. The more you research and build up this filed system of knowledge the easier it will be in future for other projects.

    Abbreviating research is difficult because i do not know how deep you go on subjects in your writings, if it really is just fiction than you may get away with surface information available on say wikipedia, but if you have specialized niche and or your characters are in situations where they need to exhibit understanding in depth it will be necessary to actually have that depth ready to go.

    Sorry i can not help more. I am more of a scrappy writer and do not include many specialized things by design, but my writings are shallow, nigh pulp levels too.

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