by DiAnn Mills, @diannmills
Writing and research go hand in hand. Every topic in a novel needs an element of research. If the manuscript isn’t accurate, the reader will recognize the flaw and toss our work aside. If a writer is spot-on, she will be rewarded with good reviews and more readers. Sort of a no-brainer for us writers.
How do we conduct the process effectively and efficiently?
Focus: List what is needed for the writing project in chronological order. This includes plot, culture, setting, dialogue, and characterization.
Develop: What specialty people need to be contacted to ensure reliable information? Determine if an email or phone contact is sufficient or if they can accommodate a face to face meeting.
Map: Where does the writer need to visit for experience and sensory perception? Can the setting be visited at the same time of year as the story?
The following questions and suggestions will help the writer focus, develop, and map out a strategic planand enhance your story for readers.
- Visit the area’s chamber of commerce.
- Conduct a web search of the area. Some apps will help with this: Google Maps, Google Earth, Weather Bug, or travel sites that can be found via apps or websites.
- Take or download more pictures than will ever be needed.
- Interview people living in the area. For a historical setting, this also means reading diaries and journals. How has history affected the community?
- Listen to how local people talk. Do they use a distinct vocabulary?
- What are the community’s values and expectations for life and each other?
- What is their diet? How much of their food supply is local?
- How is the area governed?
- What are the local hotels? Restaurants? What’s featured on the menus? Any daily specials?
- What are the sources of entertainment?
- How do the residents celebrate holidays?
- Does the community have special festivals?
- How does the area experience the seasons, and what are average temperatures?
- What are the medical concerns? What kind of medical care is available?
- In what kinds of homes do they live?
- Where do they shop?
- How do the people dress?
- Do the arts play a vital role in the community?
- How do the people view education, sports teams, and favorite colleges?
- How do they earn a living?
- If the area is near a national or state park, look for research material in the visitors’ section.
- Discover the wildlife and birds of the region.
- Locate a map of the area.Visit the local library.
- View newspaper archives.
- Look for documentaries on the area.
- Visit themed or local museums.
When a writer is cognizant of what is needed to make a manuscript zip with authenticity, readers clamor for more.
How do you conduct writing research?
When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised – and none too happy – when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.Kord and Monica must quickly put aside inter-agency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit – plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince – or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?
DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Find her on the web at www.diannmills.com.