Monday, April 23, 2012

Is Research Really Necessary?

I still haven't started writing my first draft of Betwixt yet. Yes, feel free to roll your eyes. I've been talking about starting it for weeks. But the truth is, I HAVE been working on this project. I've just decided to spend some major time researching first.

You see, usually I launch into a project with gusto and kind of figure things out as I go along. But this time around, I have decided to try things a little differently. I guess you could call it a test run.

Because we writers create our own worlds, I never thought too much research was necessary, but now I'm wondering if I was wrong.

The book, STORY, that I talk about all the time, is a big advocate of research and planning. Having read through my notes, yet again, I started getting really excited about the idea of thorough research and planning before getting started. I mean, I've always been a planner, but I would often start with a skeleton, then start writing and pack in things along the way. THIS time around, I'm really trying to lay some solid foundations before writing the first chapter.

So - what kind of research am I doing?

Well - I'm researching my main characters really thoroughly. I am creating back stories for them, learning about their habits, understanding the way they think and move and what drives them at the core... you know, the subconscious stuff that even they aren't aware of.

It's amazing. I am learning so much about these people and as I do it, more ideas keep popping into my head. My story line is getting shaped before even starting. As I discover things about these characters, I am coming up with new material. It's so cool!

I still need to research my location and figure out the culture of my setting. This is where I'm a little unsure how deep to go. I mean, I want to understand my world really thoroughly, but I'm setting this story in a real town... one I don't know that well. I sort of want to create my own culture for them, yet still do the place justice. If I over research, I worry I might feel obliged to change my world too much. In saying that, there is that beautiful little thing called poetic license... maybe I should get to know the town then just change the bits I want to :) I'll let you know how I get on.

What are your thoughts on pre-writing research?
Do you think it's necessary?


  1. I'm more a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I tend to do most of my research as I write. But I've always wanted to be an outliner, so I'm a bit jealous. :)

    1. I'm not sure if one is better than the other, but I'm really enjoying this way, that's for sure :)

  2. I am a research-junkie....can't get enough of it. I think research can only add to a story. I think it is especially important if your story is set in a real place. But even if it is fantastic world you have created, research will pay off. You need to develop the culture of the world, the rules, the society and of course your characters' backstories. Really I can't say enough about how important research is, not to mention enjoyable. While it is for me anyway :)
    Great post hun!
    - KimK

    1. Yay - thanks for stopping by Kim :) I agree - research really is vital. I will take some more time to look into my setting. I think you're right - knowing the rules of the world are really important.

  3. I am a very big fan of research - and it's something that I seriously can't live without as a writer. Research is how I amp myself up to write.
    I start with an idea. Doesn't have to be big - just a little one will do - and then I start building characters around that idea. Locations start to fall into place, and before I know it - I have a whole new world all set up, and ready to jump into.
    Why on earth wouldn't you love that!
    Anyway - I'm pleased that you are enjoying the process. Just remember where you store all your notes etc. Personally I use OneNote for all my research related stuff - as its one programme that holds everything I need.
    Have fun!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Leigh. I'm a big Scrivener fan. I like being able to refer to it really quickly while I'm writing :)