How to Use Research to Craft a Better Book
Build a sturdy foundation for your book by doing your homework.
Research is a must for authors because it shows that you are informed and knowledgeable on a topic, and it gives you instant credibility to potential readers. And don’t think that research is only necessary for nonfiction authors. Fiction writers can benefit from doing their homework, too.
The good news is that when you are writing about a subject that you’re passionate about, researching can be fun and rewarding.
An Author's Guide to Research
It's a cliché that good readers make good writers, but it's a cliché for a reason. Immersing yourself in the words of authors writing about your topic or in your book's genre will inspire you to write your own book. Plus, surveying what books are out there can help you write a book that fills (not falls into) the gaps in the marketplace.
Let the Research Lead You
As you're delving into your topic, the information you find might surprise you. Don't ignore; take advantage of this opportunity, and follow the research to its natural conclusion. Keeping your mind open will help you produce a more well-rounded book, even if it's not the book you originally envisioned writing.
Write down anything and everything (including the source and location) that you may want to include in your book. This will save you time as you write and help you properly cite the information. Always credit the original source when using another's ideas or information, whether a statistic, a theory, a song lyric or a quote.
Walk a Mile…
…in someone else's shoes. Perhaps your main character is a police officer or a bakery owner. Arrange to spend time with people who fit the profile of your characters so that you have a better idea of how they talk, their mannerisms, what their environment is like and so on. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and use all of your senses to record information. This will help you create believable characters and establish authentic settings in your book.
Ask the Experts
Don't merely rely on books and journals for your research. Journalists talk directly with experts to get the information they need for news articles, and an author's approach should be no different. Not sure where to find an expert on your topic? Start with a library or university. Whatever you do, don't rely solely on unverified Internet research.
Know Your Audience
Decide for whom you are writing your book and find out as much as you can about this group of people. Immerse yourself in the communities and activities of your potential readers, both in person and on the web, in order to get a clear picture of the people you are writing for.