Why Doing Your Research Is Important When Writing A Novel

By on April 22, 2016
Why Doing Your Research Is Important When Writing A Nove

Whatever kind of story you are writing, doing thorough research is an excellent idea. Researching a novel can take many forms, but the best writers all make sure if they are writing about something, they know about it. They interview people, they go undercover, they read and read and read about it.

Readers need to believe that what they are reading is the truth, even if the story is the most fantastical, imaginative, bizarre work. Being able to immerse themselves in the world you have created is crucial to a reader's enjoyment of a book, and thorough research is how you make it so.

If your book is about a place or event that actually happened, being factually correct about certain aspects is imperative. There is nothing that can detract from the pleasure of reading more than finding an error that suddenly makes you realise you are reading something that has been made up, it immediately takes you out of the story and back into the real world.

A good book will immerse the reader in the world, be all encompassing, vivid and emotive. So make sure if your book is set in London that you know the city, its twist and turns, its skyline, its secrets. If it is set in the Scottish wilderness, go there, live it and breathe it so you can capture the landscape in all its foreboding beauty.

When is your novel set? If you are writing a novel where the action takes place in a specific time period, you need to familiarise yourself with it. The history, the dress, the traditions, and cultures are all important details.

The language you use is also important, as is the dialogue. If you novel is set in the future think about what might have changed, will people still be driving around in the same kind of cars? Will they still use money? Will there be the same speech, foods, ways of governing? You need to create rules for your world and be consistent with them in order to create believability.

Your characters themselves also need to be researched thoroughly, you need to give them history to bring them to life. What do they believe in, what hobbies do they have, are they from a particular culture? What experiences have they had that have shaped them as people?

Even elements such as their profession, which may or may not be important in your story, should be thoroughly researched. You may make your character a lawyer - if so you need to find out exactly what a lawyer does, what their workplace is like, what is expected of them.

Researching your market is also important. Before you even put pen to paper you should be thinking and learning about your audience. Who are your readers? What do they enjoy? What values do they have? How old are they? What makes them tick? Researching your audience and understanding what they want is important, and will influence and shape your story.

Learning about your genre will also give you insight into the kind of book you are writing or hoping to write. Different genres have different structures, different sets of ‘rules’ to follow. Most successful books from a certain genre all follow a similar pattern. If you want yours to do well, then read the top selling books from your genre and make notes about what they have in common, then apply these to your own story.

Reader author and fan blogs in your chosen genre, understand what is happening with it, and which direction it is going in. What has been done to death? What are the current trends? Armed with this information you can make sure you are writing something fresh and interesting that will appeal to your readers.

You should try to do as much research as possible before you start writing your book, and continue to research throughout. Organise your research efficiently so it makes sense to you and is easily accessed when you are working on a particular part of your story. There are many ways you can do this, by keeping a notebook, creating files on your computer, having a huge mind map on your wall - but only you know what works best for you.

Doing your research will give you authenticity, immerse your readers in your story and bring depth to your work. Doing research can pull up new ideas too and can even make your story go in a direction you yourself didn't even realise it could.

Whatever you write, make sure you dedicate time to researching thoroughly - your writing will be all the better for it.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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