A lot of people assume quite wrongly that researching fiction books is not necessary. They think when you write a fiction book that it is all based on the writer’s imagination and has no grounds with real life. However this is not entirely true as when a writer is coming up with a story, they have to make it believable. Even something like a science fiction story, for example, must have some credible elements.
Often a writer will be so into the research that it will take it away from the natural flow of writing and although things have to be believable when writing there also has to be that element that comes from the imagination too.
Research is said to be like an iceberg – only a small percentage should show in the finished book. You will know a lot of things that you don’t include, because you don’t want your novel to turn into an essay on whatever subject you were researching. Research is good to a certain extent but it must stay in the background. A writer always has to write from the heart and then their imagination will flow.
You need to write every day on your storyline as then you will get caught up in your story and your writing should naturally flow. You cannot do this if you are constantly researching everything as this will eat away at your writing time. Try to do the bulk of your research before you start writing (but don’t use it as an excuse to never start!). That way, you won’t write any major plot points that turn out to be impossible. For example, if you’re writing a historical mystery about the French revolution, and the whole plot revolves around a secret cypher in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, it’s better to find out before you start writing that the Eiffel Tower wasn’t built until 100 years after the revolution!
If you have to do any research later, then set aside separate time for it. Just make it a small amount each day, or make notes of what you need to research and do it in a block at the weekend. Don’t get too caught up in this aspect of writing.
When you write fiction books then of course some research is needed but only when you get to a particular part of your story that you need clarity on and then you can just research that part and nothing more. You can do this from your local library, talking to experts, looking online or buying books. But again, don’t be stopping writing every 5 minutes to look something up. It’s best to disconnect from the internet during your writing sessions, otherwise you can find an hour has passed in surfing for something that really isn’t important.
Our next post continues this theme – it’s on researching your characters. This may come out of your imagination to a much greater extent than the historical or physical setting, but there’s still a lot about your characters that you need to know, so don’t skip it!