CONDUCTING RESEARCH FOR YOUR NOVEL
Researching for your novel is a love-hate sort of thing. A lot of people think of it as though the study will compare to the work you did in school (and everyone hates that)! Other’s get a kick out of it and find it an enjoyable process.
I’m the latter. Doing the research, however, does not have to be a boring or stressful process. It can actually be quite fun!
Make a plan of attack, get your head out of the clutter of the internet, and fight to make your novel the very best it can be!
Let’s check out how to do that below:
MAKE A PLAN:
The key to researching content or facts for your novel is to make a plan of attack. Not only will this make the process easier on you as a writer, it will help you feel more organised and less cluttered.
Things to consider in your plan:
Identify the Topics You Want to Study:
Compile a comprehensive list of the topics you want to cover throughout the research process. These should be broken down into your main focus topics and your subtopics. For example, if I were writing a fantasy novel, some of my main and subtopics would be:
Main: Species Culture Cities Land Magic
Subtopic: Currency Class status Food Pollution Climate
The reason you should break down your main topics into subtopics is that majority of the time the research can be broad. This helps you ensure that you are covering all the main points that are important to your novel.
Arrange the Topics by Order of Importance:
When researching your novel, you want to make sure that you level the main and subtopics according to their importance. You can do this by asking yourself these questions:
- Does this topic add value to my story?
- What is this topics purpose?
- How imperative is it to the story?
By doing this, it allows you to optimise your time and put it to better use, as well as helps you identify the important elements in your story.
Create a Schedule:
With anything, it pays to be as organised as possible. This gives you the best chance at creating a strong novel, while not making you feel overwhelmed with the process. Questions to ask yourself to find a schedule that suits you are:
- How much research do I want to conduct per day?
- How am I going to fit this research into my work and personal life?
- What time frame do I want to conduct my research in?
Planning ahead helps you stay focused, and will make your researching experience one you will enjoy rather than resent.
The best form of research is novels that are in the same genre as the story you are writing. They have been there, done the research, wrote an awesome novel, and got it published. Now, by no means does this mean you copy their work.
Things you look for when researching other novels include:
- Their use of dialogue
- Length of their chapters
- How the characters connect with the reader
- The balance of ‘show don’t tell rule’
- Their use of descriptive language
Record your findings in a notebook or Evernote, and take 5 minutes after ever chapter to reflect on what you believe the author done well, and what they could have improved on.
Don’t feel like reading the whole novel? Not a problem, you can cut the clutter! How do you do this? Check out the table of contents and narrow down your focus No table of contents?
- Then scan the chapter headings
- Skim read the novel
- Engage in finding out other reader’s opinions on the best parts of the novel, then go over them yourself
VISITS MUSEUMS OR ATTEND EVENTS:
Museums or events are a great hands-on experience when it comes to research, especially if you are writing a historical novel. Museums, for example, are rich in historical facts and people who are mad about the past. Perhaps you aren’t looking for a museum though, and are writing a novel about a character who suffers from an illness. There are always events supporting various illnesses where you can go to find out more information. And the best part, you can participate in these events to feel closer to the story you are trying to tell.
So, how should you approach this form of research?
- Be prepared before you go
- Ask lots of questions
- Study everything
If you are an introvert like myself then you may not feel comfortable wiping out a notebook and a pen. Guess what? You don’t have too! You can use the notes on your phone, or the application Evernote.
ATTACKING THE INTERNET:
The internet is the powerhouse of research. Literally, any question you have you are more than likely going to find it on the wide web. So, with that much content, how do you approach that?
Start with Wikipedia:
I know, I know. Why Wiki? Whilst Wikipedia isn’t the most credible source, it’s a good place to start when you aren’t sure where to step. To utilise Wikipedia to its full potential, source out keywords to help you narrow down your focus. These keywords might be:
- Time periods
Sourcing Out Credible Sites:
So Wiki isn’t that credible, what is? The easiest way to approach this is to look for anything that ends with .org or .edu. Not looking for a site in particular, rather people’s opinion on a topic? Then there are plenty of online journals from credible sources you can find on the internet too.
Double Check Everything:
People make mistakes, even credible sources on the internet. We’re only human, right! Though it might be a pain, double check the facts to make sure you have them right.
This is my secret source, and I love it. Ready for it?…. REDDIT!
Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. You can find so many online communities that discuss novel writing, genre-specific topics and more. Post a question about anything regarding your novel, and a whole flock of community members will get back to you!
RELATED: How to Know your Genre.
All finished. Let’s chat!
Congrats, fellow writers. Research doesn’t have to be a bore, and can be super beneficial to your novel.
Let me know if Conducting Research for Your Novel treated you well, and if you think there is anything missing that you would like to learn about.
Hit me up in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!