Keep It Real – Research

apple-class-conference-7102 (1)“Write what you know.”  Mark Twain

This piece of writing advice echoes throughout schools and even in the halls of higher learning. The real challenge is to know what you’re going to write. Yes, we all have a great idea looming in our minds.  We know what we want to say.  Ask yourself, how are you going to place the reader comfortably or uncomfortably into the world you are creating.

If you’re a mystery writer, horror enthusiast, dystopian creator, gothic scribe, or a romance “fictioneer” reaching back in time, you need to research.

I hear the echoes of your resistance!

“Me, I create worlds. I don’t need to research them. 

Once you outlined your novel or if you are a “pantser” ( a person who writes by the seat of his or her  pants), you need research to deepen your characters, enrich your settings, and enhance your dialogue. Research supports your story line. It helps you describe your story’s world.

Research helps you as a writer.

Know your story’s historical era. If you are writing a story even twenty or thirty years in the past, don’t rely on someone’s  memory. Search online for newspapers, towns, cities, or events that happened while your character was alive.

Remember location, location, location not only works for real estate. Use the Internet to search for maps, architecture, clothing, newspapers. Reading and seeing helps you visualize

If you are creating you own world, write out a list of sensory descriptions you want your characters to make your reader feel. Create a cluster of phrases, words, even language particular to the inhabitants of your world. Let your mind build a world, word by word. Use pictures, personal feelings and experiences to expand this list.

As a writer, you need to visualize yourself living, breathing, eating, and wearing your characters’ clothes. You need to see, feel, taste, hear, and live in the world you create for your character,

Samples of sites to help you research your novel.


Thank you LUW!

My blog’s resurrection starts with a recognition to the organizers of the League of Utah Writers (LUW) 2018 Quills Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  My original intent was to write about the ‘importance’ of attending writers’ conferences.  My research* inspired me to explore the intent and energy behind a conference.

This year I volunteered for Quills. I wanted to experience a conference from a different point of view.  I wanted to submerge myself in the conference’s energy.  My volunteer assignments did not disappoint me.

The thunderous respect given to the volunteers  and their contributions displayed LUW  members made me feel inclusive, a vital part of a team.  Daily orientation and updates by “Committee Members” assisted in expanding volunteers’ knowledge. The ‘Volunteer Green Room’ furnished us with a variety of energy producing snacks and rehydrating liquids.

What did I get from volunteering at this conference? I networked with writers, presenters, members outside of my chapter. As a reader I listened to editors and agents critique other writers’ works. As timekeepers for presenter, it was easy to get to know the presenters in order to introduce them. As a timekeeper for “pitches,” one got to meet the agents and editors on a personal basis instead of a business basis. These face to face, person to person, encounters offered insights into contributors in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.  I enjoyed running errands to and from.  I want to thank Kelly Olsen who set up and kept watch over my book and the books of presenters and participants. Conference Book Store.

I participated in a new conference activity -‘Kaffekalatsches” (a German word meaning a group of people sitting together sipping liquids and talking).  Participants selected from four sessions a day to talked with an editor or agent about any aspect about writing, publishing, or the business of writing.

When an organization produces a conference on a university campus snuggled in the Rocky Mountains, brings in nationally known authors, editors, agents, and gives their members an opportunity to submerge themselves into three days of writing, the experience —invaluable.

As an observer, it appeared the committee weighed every decision’s against the participants’ best learning experience and the budget.  A plethora of the best and the brightest presenters, editors, agents, and yes, even participants .

If you are truly serious about your writing, attend a conference.  Make time to interact with writers you don’t know.  You’ll be surprise what you’ll learn.

If you think you can’t afford it, save money from your income tax return, skip a few meals out, you’re a writer, you know how to get what you want.

*The links below affirm the reasons for writers to attend writing conferences.  If you  want more options: Google: “Is it worth going to writers conferences?”


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