Researching When You Can’t Experience It
Blogger: Rachel Kent
In my opinion, the best way to do research for a book is to have first-hand experience. Traveling to a location allows for a thorough knowledge of that place. And sharing the experiences that your characters go through is the best way to write accurately about them. It’s often not possible to actually take these research trips or to experience what your character is going through for many different reasons. In these circumstances, how do you do your research?
An author friend of mine has a quick deadline so she doesn’t have time to travel, but her story is set in Alaska. She’s never been to Alaska, but has been able to learn enough about her setting through interviewing her brother who has been there. He also has pictures for her to look at.
One of my clients is writing about the military even though she doesn’t have experience with military work. To do her research she has read books written by service men and women and has done some online research as well. The best way for her to do her research would be to visit a military base, but getting clearance for a visit like that is hard to do.
A few authors at our agency write stories about American history. There’s no way to go back in time to experience the locations or events that they are writing about. To find out about these events they read journals, letters, old newspaper clippings and historical documents. For more recent history interviews are possible research tools too.
What research have you had to do for your book? Did you run into any problems while researching? Ultimately, how did you find the information you needed?