by The Mavens

     Yes, May has edged into June. Can I blame another late post on visitors? Maybe not, but that’s the excuse I’m using anyway. This post is about RESEARCH so let’s get to it:

JUDY ENDERLE: Fiction writers, don’t skip this topic! Yes, your writing benefits from research, too. It helps to give your story depth and make your setting real. Plus you may be surprised to find interesting nuggets that can be woven into your story. Have fun!

DAWNE KNOBBE: Many stories take place in the real world. If you set your story in New York, you need to know it as well as anyone who lives there.

1. Keep a list of: book titles, authors, websites, interview contact information, movies, and journals. You will need them later!
2. The internet isn’t the answer for everything and unless it is a site maintained by government departments, both local, statewide and USA wide the information may not be correct.
3. Go to local, state, and college libraries.
4. Include interviews, and visits to actual settings in your research.
5. Look at PBS for their specials that take place during the era you are writing about.
6. Are there any local museums that highlight your stories’ era, setting, or persons?

 7.Verify important information by finding two other sources that confirm it if possible.

STEPHANIE GORDON: Love, love, love research. It’s like adding the frosting to the cake, the gravy to the potatoes, the cream to your coffee. Head to the library, look on line, talk to people in the know about the who, when, where of your story. Dig for the tidbits of daily life, the sensory details of locale, the mood of time and place. You won’t be sorry. Sometimes research on one book can lead to another book, like it did when the research for a historical YA led to a picture book for Judy and me.

CHERYL ZACH: Obviously, research is essential for nonfiction. I believe it’s essential for fiction, as well, Not just for historical novels although when I wrote a four book series set during the Civil War, starting with HEARTS DIVIDED, I read over a hundred books and articles. My main characters were teens and young adults who were all fictional, but when I wrote about an historical figure in a certain time or place, you can believe he or she was there! And I never had anyone express an opinion I couldn’t support through letters, journals or speeches.

Even with contemporary novels, I do research. For RUNAWAY, for example, I checked court procedure and state law to make sure I was accurate. Young readers deserve that. I interviewed a lawyer who did family law and checked out several websites.

As for more on how to do research, I’m not the most knowledgeable on internet research, so I’m going to leave that topic to someone else, although just by wandering around the web, you can find a lot. I still like books, which go into more depth, and a research librarian at your local library–they also answer the phone!–is your best friend. Keep good notes. You may need to refer back to them, later.