Research Your Story

I’m going to go out on a limb and embarrass myself and talk about researching when writing.

I’m in the midst of writing my second novel–or is it a novella. It’s not close to being done, so I’m not sure which way it will go at this time.

Why, you may ask, do I not know? It deals with the military. After spending twenty years in the Air Force, I never took the opportunity to learn about all the other branches of the military. I’m dealing mainly with a Marine with a mix of Army attitude.

Don’t get too bored because I’m about to make my point.

Research is vital to any story if you aren’t strongly familiar with it. I’ve tried to bluff my way through a chapter concerning battle scenes. But even to me, they sound cheesy and, well, it’s suffice to say, it sounds like I have no clue as to what I am saying. So, now I have to go research what is the accurate thing to write.

It has got to be one of the worse things you can do to your reader. Talk as if you think you know what you are talking about and not really know. When I re-read my work, I could hear books slamming and readers condemning my name to all eternity.

Always, always research to learn about the facts of the story you are trying to tell. Besides, isn’t that one of the greatest things about writing? You have a huge opportunity to learn something new.

Politics also has a lot to do with the second book. I am constantly looking up government issues and how friends are made in Washington. I’m reading John F. Kennedy’s bio. There’s a life you have to get to know. And I’m glad I am learning about it. It feeds the story I am writing.

For me, learning something new fuels the imagination. The question: What if? can bring all kinds of life to your story. That is the main supply of where ideas come from. It gets the story started. When I wrote My Angel of Angels, I constantly asked myself; “What happened next?” that’s how I got through the first three or four chapters.

But what did I have to research for that book? Scenery. Locations. Businesses. I have never been to Spain. (Where the main part of the book takes place.) I had to Bing Spain’s cities depending where I was telling the story from to learn about these things.

I have read many reviews from reading fans and critics. One critic talked about how accurate the writer described the cities and surrounding area. It was one of the things that fascinated him. From the way the critic spoke, he had to be familiar with the same area. Otherwise, how could he make such a statement?

People are not stupid. We know what’s going on. This is the age of information. Don’t get caught in taking your story too far off the track. Only off track enough to make it interesting to get the reader to turn the next page. After all, isn’t that our job? Keep the story factual, yet fictional enough to keep the reader turning the page.



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