Researching stories

Learning is a pleasure of mine, and researching stories is a portion of the fun writing them. So many things to learn and you know the hardest part for me? Knowing when I should stop. Researching is often a rabbit hole and forms a part of the problem for me of procrastination.

Research is an important part of writing but remember time spent researching is not time spent writing. Right now I am working on a weird jazz story. The story must have jazz at its core but an element of the weird or supernatural.

It is always good for research to be focused. Knowing Who, What, Where and Why of your story is a good start. But expanding on those ideas is important and to do that you have to know what pieces you need to research in order to expand your initial ideas into a story.

Several of my stories have had essential elements based in history or real locations. Ned Land vs. The Kraken Cult had a lot of research into the whaling industry and culture of whaling in the 19th century.  A burst of inspiration added a character midway suddenly needing research into children’s attire and customs. The Australian Gold rush was a topic in Birds of a Feather.

And because research can be fun, after this is not a term paper, one piece of information or topic always leads to another, and another and the rabbit hole of the internet can be bottomless.

  1. Common wisdom is performing your research first.
    1. I certainly perform a good deal of preliminary research but by no means all of it. Mainly because I cannot anticipate everything I may run into as I write, perhaps as I gain experience this will change. For now though, if I run into a question I sop and research it.
  2. Prioritize your research.
    1. You have the idea, but is it plausible? What do you need to get started? This is the overview research I begin with, my concept. For a recently completed historical fiction, Winter Tales, the concept is about the first journey of a Viking Merchant. There are plenty of stories about Viking raiders and plunderers but they were also merchants. I used archeology articles and historical documents. It was easy to confirm the concept.
  3. Visit the library.
    1. There is a lot of information there. It can do you some good to get out from behind your computer. I have found it is often easier to focus on one research topic doing this too.
  4. The internet these days puts almost anything within reach of a creative search.
    1. It is also my favorite rabbit hole. Since I have a hard time knowing when to stop I will often set an alarm. It usually works. A time limit helps me focus on the needed research and provides me a stopping point. Do I always listen? Well, not always.

Right now, as mentioned I’m writing a weird jazz short story. The research need I have now? How a jazz playing mystical guardian deals with physical threats. As the old D&D saying goes, the answer to any magic user is cold steel. But what about fangs?

Thanks for reading,




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