The Importance of Research

As a writer, I think that research is immensely important.

You need to know the world you are writing about, otherwise you will run the risk of inaccuracies and flaws, which may annoy your readers. So don’t take anything for granted… if you’re unsure on something you’re writing about (i.e. the rankings of the British Army), then make sure that you look into it and get it right!

My first book was set in the fifties (forty years before I was born), so I did a lot of research for it! I wanted to paint an accurate picture of the time period, so I read books and looked online about it, making sure that every little detail was accurate. What did people eat? What did they do in their spare time? What sort of clothes did they wear? All of these questions were relevant and allowed me to progress with the story.

My second book, on the other hand, required very little research because it was heavily based on personal experiences. For these sorts of projects, the ones that you’ve lived through or experienced through the eyes of others, you don’t have to worry as much about research because you already know everything that you want to convey. However, it’s still good to check that you’ve got things right.

As for my latest project, set in a fantasy world, I thought that a lot of research would be required. However, I soon came to the realisation that my world has its own rules, so I’m not bound to issues of accuracy! Of course, research is helpful if you’re looking for ideas or elements to base your fantasy world on, but for the most part, you have free rein.

The most important tip from this post is to research what you’re unsure about. Don’t just blag something and think you’ll get away with it because there’ll be people out there who will know that you’ve got it wrong! So do your research and have fun with your writing!

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Coming up with characters

When people rave about a book, it’s usually about the characters.

The characters are the most important element of the story, so it’s important to get them right. The plot is important too, but it’s the characters who drive the plot. If you don’t have realistic three-dimensional characters, then the plot feels contrived and forced. Good characters help to create the illusion that the narrative is unfolding naturally. But how do you create these vibrant characters?

What I personally do is take elements from people I have encountered – either in the real world or other works of fiction – and mold them into an interesting character. If you’re already familiar with the type of people that you’re writing about, then it’s easier to breathe life into them. Authors are encouraged to write what they know, and I would definitely encourage you to do that with your characters. There are many different types of people in this world, both good and bad, so take inspiration from everyone that you meet. Your characters will ring true if they are drawn from your own personal experience, even if your story is set in a different world.

There are many things to consider when coming up with characters. What’s their name and what do they look like? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Their motivations and goals? While it’s good to consider all of these things, I try to let my characters form organically before I start putting them into boxes.

And before you begin to write, I recommend that you at least know the basics about your characters. Know enough information so that you can proceed with the story without having to stop every five minutes to ponder over what a character might say or do. As I like to map out my narrative in advance, I always have a basic framework of how the story is going to pan out, which means that I usually know my characters quite well before I get started. But regardless of whether you like to plan or simply go with the flow, you will definitely get to know your characters better as you go along.