When you think of writing a book, research may not be the first thing that comes to mind. The truth is, however, research is an incredibly necessary step to creating rich settings, ensuring accurate portrayals of real world processes, professions and more. It can help you get things right and–in many cases–can take you down avenues you hadn’t before considered. And yes, this truth applies to writing fiction as well! With all the benefits of doing your research, you may be excited to get going but don’t quite know where to start. Here are three great, free resources to take advantage of when doing research for your new book!
The Library is the old faithful of research. Not only is it chock full of books–both fiction and non–but with a handy library card, you can take advantage of these books absolutely free. If you’re writing a book that takes place in stone age Europe, you might find it advantageous to check out a book on stone age cultures in Europe. On the same note, if you’d like to write a western love story, it would make perfect sense to check out some books on early Western colonial life. Books are chock full of useful information to help you include important details and ensure your work has a sense of realism.
Sometimes to get a true perspective on how to portray a certain profession, setting, concept, et al. you have to get in front of people who have experienced them. If your thriller set in the 1950’s needs more detail, you can seek out a discussion with someone who lived through that time. They can provide you with an idea of the lingo, clothing, etiquette and feelings that might be hard to pick up on in books. These conversations can lead you down rabbit holes that shed line on ideas or perspectives that you hadn’t even considered beforehand and add significant depth to your work. If the main character of your novel is a fisherman in the tropics, it would give you incredible insight to chat with someone who experienced that profession firsthand.
If you’ve never spent much time on the video site, you may be surprised to find that YouTube isn’t’ just about silly cat videos. It is absolutely brimming with information about almost any topic you can think of. Want to properly portray the Norse pantheon? YouTube has countless videos on that subject. Some of them are also extremely entertaining–which makes research a lot easier! No matter the subject, you can access all sorts of information about it online in video format. Let’s say you’re writing a chapter where you describe in detail one of your characters forging a dagger. Simply go on YouTube and type in “process of forging a dagger” and viola, a selection of videos from countless creators, specialists, artisans, historians, etc. on how to do just that!
These resources are highly valuable for gaining insight on the details of your work, but the most important thing I hope this article gets across is the important of research. Writing is an opportunity to express yourself, to create a story no one has written before, but your work can be made far more powerful with a little research. You–and your readers–will appreciate it.
What is your favorite research tool when writing and planning your writing? Let me know in the comments below!