“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.