Tuesday, June 22, 2010

HIW - Research

HOW I WRITE is a blog series where writers of different genres discuss how they go about the business of writing a book. Like snowflakes, writers are unique and we have unique ways to produce our creative product, our books. So walk with us, learn from us, and help us become better writers in the process. Click HERE to visit the other authors in this series!


I'm a big believer in writing what you know. However, you can't always do that. Not when the plot bunnied grab hold demand you explore new direction. I'm not big on research. There I said it. I look up whatever details I need, but that's about it. For example I wrote a short involving a cruise ship so I went and got some of those glossy booklets (day dreamed about going myself for 'research' purposes) and used them to help with description etc.

I recently picked up a great book to help me get to know different citys and towns. Since I am Canadian and most of my stories are based somewhere in the States, I find this book very handy. Writer's Guide to Places by Don Prues and Jack Heffron may be worth checking out. Some of the things it anwsers are: In what New Orleans neighborhood would your villian commit a crime? What kind of food is your Vancouver native most fond of? What slang does your Ohio character use?

Happy writing!



  1. I'm with you on the short pieces. But, like you I'm going to push myself and try a different way for next time. I have a friend that is expanding a short story into a novel. It is amazing to watch her do it. But I do think she wrote an outline...

  2. I think the character sheets and synopsis are key for plotting. I WANT to be a pantser and just write, but things seem to come easier when I have a direction. At least after the first chapter...

  3. I am a very skeletal writer when I start the first draft. So I hear you on length. I have to swear by Chris Vogler's book for plot though. He gives you the list of things a story needs... it may help with making them longer. I think I realized I was a middle grade writer when I looked at my 40K mss... of course my main character is 14 so um, yeah. :)

  4. Hey hon. Did you copy over your last post on HIW?

  5. Oh no, it looks like she may have copied over her post from last week! I almost did that myself - wish there was a "copy post" option.

    Anyways - I talked a little bit about writing only what I know on my post for this week. I just can't do that - I think it'd bore me to death. I can understand though how research can seem daunting - it's what's keeping me from writing the historical romances that keep running around in my head.

    I may find that "Writer's Guide to Places" book useful myself - adding it to my notes, thanks!

  6. I think I lean more toward the 'write what you love', other than 'write what you know'. Because if I wrote what I knew, there'd be nothing worth interest.