Research – A Key Element to Storytelling

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What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a lot of time researching all kinds of things for various writing projects. I need to research curriculum development and pedagogical methods for my work with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. I just spent the past few days hitting Google for historical and cultural research while taking part in an anti-racism workshop.

My job teaching at the college and romance scholarship also requires time researching. Before leaving for Chicago, I looked for additional sources as I edited an essay about African American Muslim romance fiction (yes, it’s a thing) and how female protagonists are othered. It is interesting how Muslim authors use the other woman trope in love triangles.

Focus, Lyndell. Okay.

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It may seem that so many demands will make research a tedious exercise. The opposite is true for me. I have developed as a researcher over the years, and finding relevant information has become a habit.

For most people in this Google world, researching and learning about a topic is so easy that fact-finding and checking is basically second nature. Accessing information is essential when writing, and having it so readily available is a Godsend. Remember those days of having to trek down to the library to the reference section ALL the way in the back? I don’t miss the days of hauling heavy books to a table and copying what was often sparse information, which required pulling more books from shelves.

Now, with a few clicks and swipes, an abundance of information is at our avail. Hallelujah!

Writing fiction can be just demanding in the research area. Worldbuilding, characters, and the things that happen to them all involve finding information about a myriad of things.

Writing fiction can be demanding in the research area. Worldbuilding, characters, and the things that happen to them all involve finding information. I have had to learn about different mood and mental disorders, including PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and narcissism.

Yeah, most of my characters have some underlying issues, including the main protagonists. Regina Kent struggles with PTSD in both My Way to You and the soon-to-be-released Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit. Readers know why. Poor thing.

Side note: Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit is going through final edits. Yay!

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I have also had to research medical issues like infertility, gunshot wounds, abortion side effects, and birth control efficacy. I know, I do some messed up stuff to my characters. You guys like it though.

I am blessed to have some great friends who are professionals in fields like law, social work, history, nursing, medicine, etc.  I frequently contact my attorney friends as I write the books in Brothers in Law series.

My best friend is a child and family counselor. I’m always calling her and asking about behaviors and therapy sessions. I want things to be as close to reality as possible and try to provide readers with accurate details. Sometimes I had to edit a manuscript after talking to a professional. Research is vital to write convincing text.

My characters’ perils and hazards usually do not pop into my head until I’m fully engaged in writing the plot. I rarely research those things until I am at the point of writing about them, but, I do research for worldbuilding elements before starting a book. For example, a story may be set in a city, which makes it necessary for me to gain information about it and gather any inspirational images.

I create Pinterest boards for a novel to add images that serve as points of reference for me as I write.

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I selected images of Harlem, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Long Island and put them on the Pinterest boards for My Way to You and Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit. I also include character images, landmarks, cars, houses, and outfits.

An author may have to find different ways to gather information and give their stories depth.

Let’s keep those keyboards clicking.

Image by dh_creative from Pixabay

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4 thoughts on “Research – A Key Element to Storytelling

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  1. This is interesting. I also remember the days of reference books which I used through out high school. Google and the internet are a real blessing. My son suffers from OCD and PTSD so I know a lot about that and I have also worked this knowledge into my writing.

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  2. When I was a reporter, I did a lot of research and I still do as part of my current job. I actually love research. But it’s not the focus of writing. I want to write a great story, not a technical manual, so I end up researching as I go along, not prior to a project.

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  3. I grew up in the days of card catalogs and microfiche for research. I actually miss having to dig thru stacks of books. There was so much to learn.

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