Even if you’re writing fiction, it’s important to get your facts right. Making sure your information is as accurate as possible helps create an immersive experience for your readers. Unless you’re purposely writing a time-travel-alternate-reality narrative, you don’t want your audience suddenly popping out of your short story or novel to wonder: How did the Alps end up in Wisconsin, and since when is chocolate made with lima beans? And hey, no one had a cell phone in 1876! That’s why research can be one of the most important skills for a creative writer. Fortunately, the research experts at Writer’s Relief have some great tips and advice to share about how to conduct writing research like a pro.
Conduct Writing Research Like A Professional Researcher
Get Organized: There’s no point in researching facts for your creative writing if you’re going to lose track of the details. Keep a journal (whether physical or digital) where you list all of the resources you’ve used to confirm your information. This allows you to quickly go back to a source if more questions arise, rather than wasting your precious writing time hunting down the answer all over again.
Use The Experts: We live in an age where we have thousands of years of information at the tips of our fingers! Why let it go to waste? Make sure you are using legitimate sources: Look into reputable resources covering what you’re writing about and academic texts. JSTOR and Google Scholar can offer access to a number of academic papers for your use.
Reading what others have written on your topic can also lead you to other sources of good information. Most academic works will have a list of their sources. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that list.
Read, Read, Read! If you’ve found a good source of information, don’t think you’re done. A professional knows that to truly get the whole picture, they’ll need to read more than just one book! Gather a wide selection of sources and thoroughly read through them, making notes that might pertain to your story. If your source references other sources, add them to your reading pile.
Be Wary Of Misinformation: Unfortunately, in this age of information, misinformation is equally rampant. Make sure the information you use is taken from a trustworthy source. If you’re investigating online, consider the web domain: Is it a reputable website? Or is it a jumble of nonsense.com? When using published material, research the authors and what biases they might have. Does the writer have an agenda? Are they considered a reliable source or are they known for disseminating fake news? Check that they offer sources to back up any claims.
Know When To Quit: It’s important to know when you’ve sunk too deep into the sea of research. We’ve all done it! All you wanted to do was confirm one fact, but hours later, you have ten tabs open and you’re just about to open another. There’s a point where you have to consider: Am I just procrastinating?
After all, the reason you want to research is so you can write, so don’t let an obsession with getting everything perfectly accurate stop you from continuing your novel or short story.
By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to effectively research any facts without wandering off track. And once your carefully researched novel or short story is completed, you can take a break—instead of spending hours and hours researching the best markets for your work, turn to the research pros at Writer’s Relief. We can help you target the right markets and boost your odds of getting an acceptance. Learn more about our services, and submit your writing to our Review Board today!
Question: What part of creative writing research do you struggle with the most?