Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How Do You Tackle Research??

Eureka! I have discovered how to turn litter into catnip!
Call me a nerd, but I love doing research. I buy used research books by the cart full, rent and record applicable documentaries, email experts, and do my best to make sure I get things right. Depending on what you're writing, research can be tricky. Even if you're writing fantasy the basics have to be right. I think it goes towards your story's credibility and can only strengthen it.

Currently, I have a new novel due to my publisher in less than two months and I've been doing not stop research on everything from ancient culinary arts to decompression sickness (don't ask)!  Luckily, I went to some tough schools, so proper note taking was a must. I never thought it would help me now. I openly apologize to all the teachers I secretly glared at during class who I thought were purposely trying to give me carpal tunnel! THANK YOU!!!! ;)

So, how do you approach research? Any nerdy research secrets you'd like to share? Do you love it or loathe it?


  1. I enjoy research a lot. If I need indepth research I'll order books from Amazon and then look in the bibliography for their primary sources, which often I can then buy. And google is a good place to start.

  2. I love research. It's so fun to learn new things! Meticulous note-taking is a great skill to have.

  3. Research is crucial Hilary, especially when you have written yourself into a corner. :)

  4. Great question. I was wondering the same thing! So far I've started in the library with relevant books and used their bibliographies for more in depth works.

  5. Congrats on all the good publishing news, Hilary -- so happy for you!

    I keep an out file on my computer (just a word doc) and link or jot all my sources there as I write. It is amazing how much we have to prove/document as authors!

  6. I've got five steps (or levels) I refer to when researching. I'm a total research and knowledge nerd, and sometimes it's hard to remember not to go too far.

    Here's how I list them:

    Level 1: Wikipedia. You can't always count on it being fully accurate, but Wikipedia is a decent starting point for some topics.

    Level 2: The Internet. There is no end to the websites covering certain topics.

    Level 3: Books. Mostly non-fiction, but every once in a while a novel can teach you something important too.

    Level 4: Experience. They say write what you know. If you don't know it, go do it. Then you will.

    Level 5: Experts. The only way to understand a topic more than by experiencing it yourself, is to speak to someone who has spent an entire life doing it.

    Anyway. Yeah. There you go. Great topic, Hilary!

  7. Laura, looking in the bibliography for more sources is a GREAT tip!

    Angie, yes! I can't believe I'm still using my note taking skills now!

    Jack! You are so right! Whenever I blocked, I start doing research and magically the sparks fly and story continues!

    KMC, I love getting lost in the library and discovering books. I love the stacks!!! :)

    Thanks, Tess! I have one of those word docs too! That's another great tip. That way you won't forget!

    Matt, yes! I agree with everything. We must scour every research avenue! ;)

    Great research advice, everyone!

  8. I love research - so much so that I can make it the best procrastination tool in the whole writing process. I've learned to tone it down, but I've also learned how well research helps untangle some of those plot snags. My research process is much like Matt's above.

  9. Dawn, yes, when someone asks me how I get through a writer's block, I can't emphasize enough the importance of research. Like you said, it really helps untangle those plot snags. I can't remember a time where it has not worked!!! :)

  10. Anonymous8/04/2011

    Great advice! I'm writing my first novel, so this really helps!

  11. hi miss hilary! i like researching but some times i get sooo caught up im doin it one thing gets me wondering bout another and pretty soon im way away from where i got started. ack! mostly i use google for a starter. but for travel i ask my brother sebi cause hes been every where in the world and for psyc stuff i ask my brother alex cause he does therapy and my brother andrews a carpenter and jasons into sports and carlys a girl. ack! and i got cousins that know lots of stuff. sometimes i ask so much questions i get them all crazy. ha ha.
    ...hugs from lenny

  12. Lenny, that's so true! Sometimes the research itself is so interesting you keep reading when you should be writing or the research makes you think of other stories you want to write! I think that's a sign that we're really smart. That's what I'm going with anyway! ;)

    Big Hugs!!


  13. Have to do historical research for my novels, great fun!


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