Journey to a Bestseller: Researching For Your Fiction Novel (Series #41)

Hello friends and writers! You know, most of the time I sit down to write this blog about my writing journey, and have no idea what I want to say. I begin telling you about what’s going on and fall into a helpful topic. This coming week I’m going to be plotting out my new “high-concept” story. And plotting takes research, so that’s what we’re going to talk about this week.

I’ve had people ask me about researching for books, but I confess, I’ve never known what to say about it. So I’m going to be very transparent here and tell you what I know, or at least MY personal method.

I begin with an idea, I have fun naming characters, and come up with a rough idea of what I want to happen. Now, I did come up with a high concept that I will be writing next–it’s two popular YA books mixed together, BUT I decided to up the stakes and make it happen in space. Wow, I know.

So, before I begin writing, I need to know about the “world” my characters live in. Where do they live? Is it a made-up place, or someplace in the world, or as in this case, somewhere in the solar system? Mine will be taking place in the Oort Cloud. Where is that?

Wiki says, “The Oort cloud (/ɔːrt, ʊərt/),[1] named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, sometimes called the Öpik–Oort cloud,[2] is a theoretical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals proposed to surround the Sun at distances ranging from 2,000 to 200,000 au (0.03 to 3.2 light-years).[note 1][3] It is divided into two regions: a disc-shaped inner Oort cloud (or Hills cloud) and a spherical outer Oort cloud. Both regions lie beyond the heliosphere and in interstellar space.[3][4] The Kuiper belt and the scattered disc, the other two reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, are less than one thousandth as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud.”

The outer limit of the Oort cloud defines the cosmographical boundary of the Solar System and the extent of the Sun’s Hill sphere.[5] The outer Oort cloud is only loosely bound to the Solar System, and thus is easily affected by the gravitational pull both of passing stars and of the Milky Way itself. These forces occasionally dislodge comets from their orbits within the cloud and send them toward the inner Solar System.[3] Based on their orbits, most of the short-period comets may come from the scattered disc, but some may still have originated from the Oort cloud.[3][6]

Now, you can see, all I had to do to find this info was Google “Oort Cloud.” Obviously, that was simple. But now I have to decide, do they live in some kind of ship, or on a planet, or inside a small planet?

Next, I have to figure out the mechanics of it. Now, this is a novel about something else, you say, why do you have to know all that? Good question. Whether the information is included in the book or not, the author has to know how EVERYTHING works, to make it as plausible as possible. I mean, you could say there’s magic and it all works because of that, but I think that’s an easy way out. You need to give enough thought to your location to make it seem like it’s possible with what we have, or expect to have. Maybe in your book, a rare gem or chemical is found in the core of the Earth, or something, and that new discovery makes your storyline possible. That’s fine. Just as long as it makes sense to you and you can introduce it to the audience as being feasible.

If my characters are living that far away from the Earth, they’ll need to have systems or ways to make them enough oxygen and water to live. I plan to have my characters be miners who originally came to the small planet, what would that be called? What would you call a small planet in the Oort cloud? Let’s Google it.

Well, it turns out that: “Unlike the planets, the main asteroid belt and many objects in the Kuiper Belt, objects in Oort Cloud do not necessarily travel in the same direction in a shared orbital plane around the Sun. Instead, they can travel under, over and at various inclinations, around the Sun as a thick bubble of distant, icy debris. Hence, they’re called the Oort Cloud rather than the Oort Belt.

“Dutch astronomer Jan Oort proposed the existence of the cloud to explain (among other things) where long-period comets come from, and why they seem to come from all directions rather than along the orbital plane shared by the planets, asteroids and the Kuiper Belt.”

So now my question is, do I want the miners to find inhabitable rocks in the Oort cloud, or since they have no rotation and could knock each other into the solar system like comets, maybe I should have them find small planets in the Kuiper Belt that have a rotation. My thinking is, if a planet rotates, there is likely some kind of heat at its core from the movement and the push and pull. Let’s check that out.

“Just outside of Neptune’s orbit is a ring of icy bodies. We call it the Kuiper Belt.

“This is where you’ll find dwarf planet Pluto. It’s the most famous of the objects floating in the Kuiper Belt, which are also called Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBOs.

“There are bits of rock and ice, comets and dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. Besides Pluto and a bunch of comets, other interesting Kuiper Belt Objects are Eris, Makemake and Haumea. They are dwarf planets like Pluto.”

Click the picture to see more about how big space is.

Okay, so it looks like what I want is called a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. My miners are going to go there and hollow out a set of dwarf planets into inhabitable cave-like societies. The slightly-heated core will make it easier to keep a human-livable temperature. Or it will in my books. They’ll have a way to create oxygen through some kind of filtration and there’s plenty of ice in the Kuiper belt to melt and clean for water. Food. What about food?

Would they be able to plant things in the soil inside the planet? The plants would need artificial sunlight, as would the people. How do we maintain electricity? Could there be some kind of windmills on the surface that collect energy as the planet spins through the atmosphere? I don’t know how plausible that is. There’s not actually any “atmosphere” or air to go through the mills, but we can work on that later.

I hear you asking, Do I really need to know all this if they’re living in a colony inside the planet and this has nothing to do with the plot?

The easy answer: Yes.

Yes, you do want to know how things work in your world. Whether you talk about them in the book now, or later, or never. YOU–the author–need to know how things work. Of course, it’s fiction, so things may only work in theory, and not reality, but the key words there are that it “works in theory.” Meaning, if we had what was necessary, if what we need existed, that could be possible.

I need to know the history of the world I’m making. How many years does it take to get to the Kuiper Belt?

“Distances in the solar system are commonly measured in Astronomical Units (AU). An AU is simply the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. Because the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is an ellipse, the Earth is not always the same distance from the Sun. An AU is equal to ~149,600,000 km. It takes 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth,traveling at the speed of light, of course.

“The Kuiper Belt is a disk-shaped region past the orbit of Neptune, roughly 4,400,000,000 to 14,900,000,000 km (30 to 100 AU) from the Sun, that consists mainly of small bodies which are the remnants from the Solar System’s formation.

“Pluto is not the only dwarf planet in our solar system – Eris, 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered in 2003. Eris and its moon Dysnomia have a current distance from the Sun of 97 AU, which is nearly 3 times as far from the Sun as Pluto is. Eris is part of a region of space beyond the Kuiper Belt known as the scattered disc. The scattered disc is sparesely populated with icy minor planets. These so-called Scattered Disc Objects or SDO’s are among the most distant and thus the most cold objects in the solar system. The innermost portion of the scattered disc overlaps with the Kuiper Belt, but its outer limits extend much farther away from the Sun and farther above and below the ecliptic than Belt. Although their origin is not completely understood, it is thought that Scattered Disc Objects were previously members of the Kuiper Belt, which got ejected into eccentric, scattered orbits through close encounters with Neptune.

“From the surface of a Scattered Disc Object, the Sun would look like little more than an exceptionally bright star.

“Cassini, launched in 1997, is a spacecraft that was bound for Saturn. It traveled towards Saturn at 18,720 miles per hour, or 5.2 kilometers per second. Using gravitational assists to aid it, Cassini still took 6.7 years to reach Saturn. If Cassini left Saturn and continued on to Pluto at a rate of 5.2 km/s, it would arrive there about 27 years later.”

So for me, it looks like the first ship of miners took about 35 years to get to the planet Eris, and maybe they left in five ships to find five rocky bodies near each other to make colonies in. So the first group, if they were about 20s to 30s when they left Earth, would be 50s to 60s when they arrived, and would have been doing strength training the whole time, as well as having children, and schooling them in mining, as they would be the best workers when they got to the new planet.

Once the five ships and their crew arrive at the dwarf planets, they’ll have to make camp on the surface and begin the mining. Of course the younger people will be the ones who have to do all the hardest work and may resent being born onto the ship and forced to labor for their survival. Never knowing the planet their parents came from. It would cause some angst. To say the least. Who knows how long it would take them to build the cities I have in mind. The OC’s who left Earth would have been gone many generations ago. The leadership would have been established and the young generation who thought socialism was a good idea, voted in a ruler.

I need to know how they eat and drink. Maybe their population has grown so much, there is new mining taking place to build an extension. Mine workers are known to die. But I don’t know the life expectancy. With cave-ins and lack of oxygen, there would be a mortality rate for miners. Let’s Google that.

“The average life expectancy in the coal mines for those starting work at 15 y was found to be 58.91 y and 49.23 y for surface and underground workers respectively. In the coloured/metal mines they were 60.24 y and 56.55 y respectively.”

60 years is not a lot for a life expectancy. That will add to the conflict, too.

So, maybe while they’re mining they find a new substance that can be burned for energy. It causes the miners to contract a certain sickness, but if handled correctly, it is much more useful than coal. I can make that up.

How will they make clothes? Did they take animals with them? Do they eat them? Maybe only when they die or get injured, so meat is rare, and goes to the ruler and his family first, then his court, then the magistrates, then the people? I don’t know. How is a kingdom divided? Let’s Google that.

Looks like I’m looking for an aristocracy. Wiki says:

Aristocracy (Greek ἀριστοκρατία aristokratía, from ἄριστος aristos ‘excellent’, and κράτος, kratos ‘rule’) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats.[1] The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning ‘rule of the best’.[2]

“At the time of the word’s origins in ancient Greece, the Greeks conceived it as rule by the best qualified citizens—and often contrasted it favourably with monarchy, rule by an individual. The term was first used by such ancient Greeks as Aristotle and Plato, who used it to describe a system where only the best of the citizens, chosen through a careful process of selection, would become rulers, and hereditary rule would actually have been forbidden, unless the rulers’ children performed best and were better endowed with the attributes that make a person fit to rule compared with every other citizen in the polity.[3][4][5] Hereditary rule in this understanding is more related to Oligarchy, a corrupted form of Aristocracy where there is rule by a few, but not by the best.

PlatoSocratesAristotleXenophon and the Spartans considered Aristocracy (the ideal form of rule by the few) to be inherently better than the ideal form of rule by the many (Democracy), but they also considered the corrupted form of Aristocracy (Oligarchy) to be worse than the corrupted form of Democracy (Mob Rule).[3][4][5][6][7] This belief was rooted in the assumption that the masses could only produce average policy, while the best of men could produce the best policy, if they were indeed the best of men.[5] Later Polybius in his analysis of the Roman Constitution used the concept of aristocracy to describe his conception of a republic as a mixed form of government, along with democracy and monarchy in their conception from then, as a system of checks and balances, where each element checks the excesses of the other.[8] In practice, aristocracy often leads to hereditary government, after which the hereditary monarch appoints officers as they see fit.”

So, corrupted aristocracy turns into a monarchy. But the people won’t call the leader a king. Google says: “The Social Classes in order from the highest class to the lowest are: MonarchyNobilityGentryMerchantsYeomen, and Laborers. These classes are determined by their fame, wealth, skills, and even birth. The Monarch class is given to the ruler of the nation either the king or the queen.”

So in my book, the Leader is the “king” and then there’s The Cabinet for “nobility,” Gentry can stay the same, and so can the Merchants, The People are the “yeomen” and The Miners are the “laborers.”

So my MC will come from the Miners’ class. The lowest available.

She will be drawn from a lottery of girls within the colony who are “of age.” Maybe 17. Life expectancy might also be lower in the five colonies due to the extreme conditions. The ships they came in, have been taken apart, as was the original plan, to use for things they need. The Leader of course, has the best of everything.

There is no personal ownership. Everything is corporate. The MC’s father is a mine “owner” and has been paying his salary toward ownership for all his working years. But there is a new law stating that under the laws of socialism, he can’t own the mine. All his money will be gone–and he won’t own a thing. They’ve just been told and her father is devastated.

When her name is drawn, the girl has no choice but to accept. For her family’s sake. The family of the winner of the contest gets to move up to the level of nobility, The Cabinet. Not only does she have no choice but to join, if she forfeits, her family will lose everything they have. Her family doesn’t like the chance that she’ll lose and they’ll lose her, but they can’t afford to lose the little that they have. So she goes when called.

The contest is made to find the most resilient girl, the best fighter, the best physique, the strongest will, to be worthy of being the “prince’s” (or the Leader’s son’s) bride. It will be a fight to the death.

Everything is given as an allowance to the people: water, air, food, jobs, resources. The Leader rules all. They will cause strain on the people…

Okay, I’ve given you enough information about things you probably don’t care about. But I wanted to show you my process. I don’t sit down and write out everything I need to research. I plan my story and look up what I don’t know as I go along. Google is your friend. There’s an answer for everything.

Before you make up your story you need to know:

Your genre

Your age group

Your plot–ask What if…?

Your protagonist and their family–their hopes, their dreams, their flaws

The antagonist and their associates/ roles

A central message, or moral, if there is one

The tone, or the “feel” of your story. Is it funny? Scary? Dark?

What’s the conflict? Is there a twist?

What structure will you use?

You need to know your location and its background–this is your setting.

Be aware of similar stories–google your premise and see if anyone else has done that. You want to be original. Not to say you can’t still use your story, but make sure it is different enough not to cause conflict or have people calling you a copy-cat. This means you might need to read a book or two just to make sure you DON’T do what they did. Who knows, their book might make you think of something better for your own.

Aaron Shepard says, The strongest stories have well-developed themes, engaging plots, suitable structure, memorable characters, well-chosen settings, and attractive style. For best results, build strength in all areas.

Karen Hertzberg says:

Keep your character’s struggle to get something he desperately wants in mind as you build your story framework by answering these questions.

  • Who is my main character? What is he like in his ordinary life?
  • What does he want? Is there an extraordinary event that calls him to action?
  • What is he willing to do to get what he wants?
  • How do the character’s flaws prevent him from achieving his goal?
  • What obstacles, internal or external, thwart him?
  • Does he finally overcome the obstacles or is he unable to succeed?
  • How is the character changed as a result of the struggle?

Once you know all these things, you can start writing. Now, if you’re a “pantser,” you’ll go by the seat of your pants, and write along, waiting to see what happens. If you are a “plantser” like me, you’ll start to plan and get creative later. If you’re a “planner” you’ll plan everything.

So, as a plantser, I get out a ring of notecards first. I couldn’t find any cheap ones, so I punched holes in my own notecards, and dug out a ring. I painted the front and back covers just for myself.

Now, I take those cards and from the rough outline I have, I plan the scenes. What will happen in the first scene? I think I’ll start her out working at home and see a bit of her life as she finds out her name has been drawn. On the first notecard, I’ll write simply, “Finds out her name was drawn.”

After that, someone will come to collect her and take her to the Leader’s compound, or estate, or whatever I decide to call it. So on the next card I’ll write, “Goes to the Leader’s compound and meets the other contestants.”

After that, the contestants will learn the rules and what’s expected of them. I’ll write, “Learns the rules.” Now if I think of some quippy dialogue or something that I don’t want to forget for that scene, I write that on the card as well. It can be as simple or complicated as you want.

You can rearrange your cards into the order you want and when you have all your scenes plotted, take that ring of cards and open it to the first one.

THEN I begin to write. I flip to the first card, and write that scene. Then flip to the next card and write THAT scene. And so on. Just as with your planning, if/when you come across something that you need more info on, Google it. Keep all the info you find in a file on your computer so you can go back to it, and/or cite it later, if you need to.

Writing this way frees me up to be as creative as I want to be within those scenes. I already know what the end is going to be so I can give some foreshadowing, or conversely, throw the readers off the trail with some planted twists. I couldn’t be that free otherwise. If I was “pantsing” my way through the story, writing it as I go, letting the characters tell me what will happen, I won’t know the ending until I get there.

Then I can’t be as free when I write because I’m trying to plan it as I go. Even if you are a die-hard “pantser,” you must realize that you are STILL planning your story, just as it goes. And I don’t believe you have the ability to be as creative in that sense. You also run the risk of inserting things you plan to make a big deal out of, that fall through. That frustrates the reader.

Have you heard “Chekov’s Gun” theory? If you’re new to this blog, I’ll say it again, the theory states that if there’s a gun on the mantle in Act I, it had better go off by the end of Act III. Meaning, don’t add details for shock value. Don’t promise us danger, and then not give it to us. That can also create plot holes.

Now, even though I plan my scenes, sometimes the characters want to do something else. That’s fine. If the story changes on me, and it often does, I write new index cards with new scene information and shove them in the ring of cards where they go. Take out what you had and set it aside just in case.

Most of the research is going to be in the beginning, but you’ll come across things when you’re writing that need more information, or definition, and then you run back to Google for answers. Take what you need, and file the information away.

I know you wanted to know how to research for your story, but there’s no easy answer for that. Well, yes there is. Google. Whatever you don’t know, Google the answers. Plan out the basics that I have above. If that’s all you want to plan, go ahead and write your story, but I personally recommend planning your scenes.

When you have a list of your scenes, this is easily turned into a synopsis for agents and publishers. What they want to know in the synopsis is an order of scenes. They want to see that you can tell a full story, that it rises and falls, that it has a climax and resolution. DO INCLUDE the ending in your synopsis for this reason. Your “SUMMARY” which goes in your query letter, does NOT have the ending. It is a hook that is designed to make the agent think, “I have a full slush pile, but I need to check this out RIGHT NOW.” (It’s what the movie trailer would say. )

There are many definitions for synopsis, summary, blurb, sales copy. Some are interchangeable, some are not. And depending on who you talk to, they mean different things. But coming to you as a previous agent. We called the bit in your query letter your summary, and the list of scenes, your synopsis. A blurb is something written by another author for your cover, and your back cover copy often becomes your sales description, or sales copy.

Something else I research are my characters’ names. I check to see if they are being used by someone else, or by a certain gender or ethnicity. I check the names of my cities and ships. Anything you are going to name, you need to know more about. You may not care what the word means currently, but you should still know. You don’t want to get a real good idea and give your character the same name as another character in a similar story. Or name something after a “bad” place, event, or person. It puts a negative connotation on your story that you don’t need.

Plan your society, your characters, your plot, your twists, your subplots.

It is easier to incorporate subplots when you use the note card method. Add in those scenes, or details as you go. Research as you need to. I feel like I’m missing something important. If I think of it, I’ll come back and add to it. If you know what I’m missing, comment on this post and tell me what you would add to this list.

Researching for your book isn’t hard. It’s making up the plot and the details that take the hard work. Making everything work together is important, but when you come across something you don’t know, Google is your friend. I don’t know how we made it without Google for so long. I remember scrolling through encyclopedias in the basement for my homework as a kid, checking out books from the library, and poring through the stacks looking for what I needed like a needle in a haystack. Now, it’s easy.

I need to decide things still, like, is my society based around electronics? Are they stuck with candles and lanterns like back in time? Did society evolve or devolve? Does only the top echelon of society have access to the electricity and the miners have to make due with lanterns? How will that work with a society that lives in a man-made cave-city with recycled air?

Would that even work? It looks like that’s on my list to look up. See what I mean? You’ll come across scenarios while you’re writing that you question. And if you don’t have any questions, your plot might be basic. It’s not an indicator of a poorly-written story or anything, but there should be something you need to look up to make the story as feasible as possible.

Maybe your character is a Mary Sue. What’s that? you ask. If you don’t know, you should look that up just to make sure you don’t have one. Case in point, when I first discovered what a “Mary Sue” character was, I realized that I had one. Just for the sake of this post, the definition of a Mary Sue character, Wiki says:

“A Mary Sue is a generic name for any fictional character who is so competent or perfect that this appears absurd, even in the context of the fictional setting. Mary Sues are often an author’s idealized or flawless self-insertion.[1] They may excel at tasks that should not be possible for them,[2] or they may upstage the protagonist of a fictional setting, such as by saving them. They may disregard previously established aspects of the fiction such as characterization and natural laws. Mary Sue is a type of stock character.”

There are more descriptive definitions, but the point is, it’s easy to write books early in your career with characters based off yourself. Don’t do this. Make up a completely separate character than yourself, with their own talents and flaws. Then the character should react to the stimulus in the way that the character would, not the way YOU would. Make sense? Take yourself OUT of the story. It sounds insulting, but it will be a way better story once you remove yourself.

So, research everything. Research your characters’ names and types and plan the setting, getting all the information you can about it. Plan your conflict and mind the believability factor. Don’t just make a dystopian society and have no idea how it got that way. Don’t just make an angsty character without giving them a reason to be angsty. If you have to research family or people groups to get similar characteristics, do it. Don’t go in blind. Use Google. Use it all the time. Save your research as you do your writing.

Plan those scenes ahead of time, so you can flip to your reminder card and write that scene as creatively as possible. If you come across some plot hole or something that isn’t probable, research how to make it so. You might need to change a thing or two about your backstory, but you can do that. You know your story and you’ll know what fits and what doesn’t.

Maybe you can find a writers’ group online and find someone else in your genre and/or age group that’s writing something similar. Maybe you can bounce ideas off each other. Don’t be afraid of people stealing your idea.

  1. It’s too much work to write someone else’s story.
  2. Even if they write your story from knowledge of the plot, the story won’t be the same as yours.
  3. There is a slim-to-none chance that their story will beat yours out of the gate. It takes awhile to write a book, edit it, send it out.
  4. Just concentrate on making your story the best it can be. If it’s a bestseller, there’ll be copy-cats and fan fiction that follow you anyway.

I think as authors we’re afraid that if anyone knows our plot, they’ll write our book faster and better than we can and when we get it to the agent, WE will look like the copy-cat. Let me be the one to disappoint you. There is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been done before. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find your plot done by someone else in the past. Of course, you want to be as original as possible, but the great thing about a high-concept story (what agents are looking for) is that it takes what’s already familiar and puts a twist on it that’s new.

If you’re really fearful, though. Keep it close to your chest, but don’t shy away from those friendships and collaborations. Could you join another author who is writing something similar and merge your plots to coauthor an even better book? You’ll never know if you hide in your writing hole. Get out there and get new, fresh, ideas from other writers. I’m NOT saying to go steal plots, not at all. But look at what’s been done and figure out how you can twist a really popular story into something more exciting, more romantic, more adventurous, more … well, you get the idea.

Think I’m off-topic? Well, usually I am, but not this time. Lol. That’s all part of the research. Knowing what’s out there, who’s writing what, what’s popular in your genre, gives you information you need to write your next bestseller.

Speaking of bestsellers … our WIP is still out with two top 5 publishers right now, but I am torn. That book, The Clockwork Pen, is the first in a series of four books. I want to move ahead with the book I’m planning, but I’m kind of afraid the publisher will come back and say, “We want a four-book deal and you have six months to write the other three books.” I have NO idea what the other three books are going to be about. Well, I have a vague idea, but that’s it, a really vague idea. BUT I told you this book was going somewhere and I want to end the journey in a great place. For you. I want you to see that the advice I’ve given to you is good, solid advice on how to write your bestseller.

It’s good advice whether I wrote a new bestseller or not, but it troubles me. I think I’m on to a better series. Of course, you learn every time you write a new book. Each one is better than the one before. You learn editing and make fewer mistakes in your early drafts, needing less editing and you speed up your writing. You may not care about that if you are a “hobby” writer, but if you are a “career” writer, you are in this to write books to SELL. You are writing to make money. In that case, you need to have a product readers are looking for.

I think I told you how I came up with this high-concept story, but I’ll refresh your memory. I was looking for a new plot and I was researching by reading the “bad” reviews for a very popular book in my genre and reading about what the readers liked, and more importantly, what they didn’t. And I am going to write the book readers wished they’d read. So I know there are readers for what I’m writing. The concept was one they liked, but the execution wasn’t favorable. So I am going to write the book that turns out the way the readers wanted.

You are welcome to do the same. If it gives you a great new idea, even better. But look that up and see who else did something similar and read what they wrote to make sure your idea is original enough. Make sure you aren’t too similar. There’s nothing worse than publishing a book to find out there’s already one like it.

Recently I spoke to an author who wrote a book about the cloth that Jesus wore to the cross that the soldiers cast lots for. The book explains the life of the soldier who won the cloth and how that changed his life. I said, “Oh, like The Robe?”

Years ago, I read a classic called “The Robe” and it’s a book written a LOOOONG time ago, and that is its exact plot: the soldier who won the robe Jesus wore and how it changed his life miraculously. The author I spoke to had never heard of it, and was beyond dismayed. I sent her the link to The Robe, which has been updated with a new cover, looking for a new audience. It was a super old book when I read it thirty years ago. Imagine her perturbation when she found she’d unknowingly rewritten a classic. Don’t do this to yourself. Research your plot.

Research everything before you get started. I was going to write a new book, while I was researching this one, and I had the plot figured out all the way to the end, only to find out there was a movie just like it. sigh. But, I moved on to find a better plot.

You can do it. The research isn’t hard. It’s the planning. Which I think scares a lot of people into being “pantsers,” to avoid the hard part. But as I said, you’ll still have to plan, it’s just a matter of whether you are going to plot out a great story and write it, or just start writing and see what happens.

I’m not bashing Pantsers at all. If that’s your method, go for it. Just don’t be a pantser because you’re afraid of the work in planning. You’ll end up with something basic, or already done, or with plot holes, or you could simply be making it harder on yourself, trying to plan a story as you write it, rather than guiding it along the parameters that you’ve set.

If you need help, go find some. You don’t have to write on your own. Everything you want to know is out there. You just have to find it. Do your research.

Until next week, Keep Writing!!

~jenn

2 thoughts on “Journey to a Bestseller: Researching For Your Fiction Novel (Series #41)

  1. Karen Neary says:

    I’m sure you know I’m a big researcher for my books because if readers are like me they close the book when then read something that isn’t correct–so even if it’s fiction I check everything from street directions to restaurant menus! Though I’m a pantser, I know where the story is headed so the ending is no surprise. It’s hard to believe that author never heard of “The Robe”–it was also an Academy award-winning movie starring Richard Burton!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenn Haskin Author says:

      I agree Karen, everything needs to be researched. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion to write about researching for fiction. I really don’t know what to tell people other than “Google everything!” Lol. I was really surprised about The Robe, as well. The author was an older lady, well older than me, probably in her 60s, but I figured if I knew about it, she would. However, I think she may have been a “new” Christian and said that God had given her the idea. I’m not saying He didn’t. But she could have saved herself a lot of trouble by researching that before she started writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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