NaNoCoDo #6 Research

“Write what you know!” Every writer is given this piece of writing advice and every writer has those moments of, “Am I sure about that?” and has to check their facts.

I love doing research. Books, the internet, wherever. I start by looking up one detail and get distracted by an incidental fact (like another word on that page of a dictionary). And the next thing I know, hours have gone and I haven’t even answered my original question.

But I’m happy.

My biggest problem is that I love the research so much I find it hard to contain my browsing – but many writers hate fact-checking and their problem is motivating themselves to start! Whether you love it or hate it, it is important to check your facts, even for a novel.

I’m an evil reader. I’m the one who complains if a book gets something wrong. I’ve even been known to look something up if I’m not sure it’s right! Yes, I’m that pedantic. And I’m not the only one. If you’re tempted to write a fact you’re not sure about – just imagine that I’m reading it, with my inner pedant scrutinising every last detail. Yes, blame me for being picky, then you’ll be ready to deal with any normal readers who might spot the odd error.

Even with fiction. Your characters will be moving through an environment the reader has to recognise. Getting historical facts wrong will really wind people up – so will contemporary legal issues, police procedures, any science, – the list is endless. If you’re not an expert on a subject, then find someone who is.

Of course, accepted facts will change from time to time, so it’s hard to be completely certain about anything. But your reader deserves your best effort. And who knows? You may find you enjoy research as much as I do.

One Response

  1. I’m not a thorough reader but bad punctuation leaps out at me. I know that’s not the same thing as research but it just as irritating.

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