Do you research your fiction work? We all do our due diligence in researching non-fiction work, but how much, if any, research needs to be done on fiction work? That depends on how much credibility you want to have. You do not want to be handing out urban myth as fact, and you do not want your characters to be taking routes from here to there that don’t go from here to there. If you are working with a timeline that in part (or whole) references the past, then you need to make sure that whatever you are referencing actually existed at that time.
So, do we do all of this nifty research before we start writing, or do it as we go along? One thought here would be to research the big picture before you start writing. In other words, look at the major elements of your story, and then look at what you know and what you don’t know about these elements. You need to have a thorough understanding of what you are writing about, whether it be a given profession, cultural customs, or ways to kill someone (I write cozy mysteries – no blood, no gore!). Research the major elements, and put them in your story bible. What – you don’t have a bible? Start one – now!
Once you start writing, you will be spending less time researching – but, at least this is true for me, you will still be doing some research. Again – whatever you research, add to your bible! This is the document that you refer to as you are writing so that the colors in a room stay the same throughout the story, so that your characters remain consistent, the relationship between characters remain consistent etc.
Psssssst – The Internet is not the only place to do research! Sometimes you need to get out and talk to people! Get their version of life!
© February 2012 Bonnie Cehovet