Research on a Budget

Research, research, research.  The foundation of a good story.  Plot is important.  So are the characters, as well as dialogue.  But, without a little basis in fact, it leaves much to be desired.

As writers, we all think it would be lovely to operate our research freely.  Sure, it would be nice to spend hundreds of dollars on books at a time or fly off on a whim to a desert isle somewhere, or a European castle, just for the sake of research.  But, most of us can't afford it.  Most of us will spend money occasionally on a book for research.  But, for the most part, we use the internet.  For, what can't you find there?  Okay, maybe there are a few things you can't find.  But, most of it can be found on the internet.

For example, I recently had to delve into research mode for my newest book, Perfect Game, written under the pen name Erica Sutherhome.  When I first had the idea for the story, I knew it would be set in Africa.  Simple, right?  No.  Really empty.  Just a place.  A whole continent.  So I had to narrow it down.  I had to find a province, a region, whole towns to base it in.  Sites of interest, actual events to make it sound legitimate.  For what is fiction without suspending disbelief?  To care about characters and their lives, we have to follow the story.  And research or at least the subject's environment can fill in some of those gaps.

So, once I did some looking into it, the story kind of clicked into place.  The idea of it made sense and I'm telling you now, during the the revision process, I added a lot of new scenes and more description of the place.  Of course, going into any detail will give away the story, but I digress. 

Finally, I knew where I wanted it to be, what the characters had to face, even rare illnesses that come up for some reason or other.  It was breathtaking, how exciting that journey was suddenly.  Because I am more than willing to admit that I dreaded the whole thing.  Not the story, but the research.  I always kind of fazed out in history class and I do find hard core facts more like the doldrums, but this was exciting.  And all it took was a bit of work here and there, no more than probably three hours in the span of a week.  I found images, anything to fill in the gaps, anything to give me a sense of place because short of winning the lottery, I obviously could not hop a plane to Kenya.  I even realized that though the story was contemporary, it was actually set about five years prior to the present.

Well, I suppose I've gotten off topic again.  But, as long as you push through and keep looking, trying to find the best sites and imagery, you can pull it off.  And maybe, just maybe, you can come up with something that will not only impress your readers, but make you feel a sense of pride too.

That's it for now, fellow writers and readers.  If you want to take a glance at my book, it is available for purchase on Lulu and will be up on Amazon very soon.

Thanks for reading my blog!

P.S.  If you're interested, please visit my website for additional comments and information about my other books!

Featured Post

A Character Interview with Dillon from MOUNTAIN BLAZE, plus a conversation with author Debby Grahl!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview. These character interviews, ...