Hello readers and writers! Last week we talked about the three steps to NaNoWriMo success. this week, I thought we'd dive a bit deeper into the first item on the list, research.
Research is just as important to your work as proper grammar. You need to have a working knowledge of what you're writing about, and you need to integrate concepts seamlessly into your work. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kick a reader out of a story faster than an obvious error on the author's part.
Some resist research (I get it, research is hard) and use the excuse of having built a second world, usually in a fantasy or science fiction setting. That's all well and good--and you get to make up place names and holidays for whatever society you've created--but what about those aspects of your world that are common with the one we live in? For example, horses and guns.
People get horses and guns wrong all the time. In the case of horses, I've read books where the characters ride for hours or maybe even days, and never stop to rest or feed their horses. They also never remove their tack, never rub them down... Really, the list goes on. These poor fantasy horses are not happy!
Guns are treated just as badly. In one memorable instance, a character loaded their modern automatic weapon by sliding bullets down the barrel, like a Pez dispenser. If only they'd Googled "how to load a gun" and spent the next five minutes reading, they could have avoided that egregious error.
I may know a lot about a little and a little about a lot, but I'm not arrogant or foolish enough to think I know everything. When I incorporate certain elements into my work, I research them. To expand on the examples above, I have very little first hand knowledge of horses, but I have friends and relatives who do. I hit them up for information, and sometimes I score free horseback riding lessons. I know even less about guns, since I've never even held one, and I tackle that issue in my own unique way: I don't write about them. I do, however, have characters who wield swords and other edged weapons, so I'm definitely filling my weapon research quota.
For my upcoming NaNo project, the bulk of the story takes place in County Cork, Ireland. I have been to Ireland, so I do have a feel for the land. In addition to my memories, I've subscribed to Irish periodicals, purchased a few maps and travel guides, watched Irish television (hello, Father Ted), and I've been learning Irish. I've also gotten a few YA titles set in Ireland, but I'm saving them to read in December, after I hit my 50k and before I start editing. My intent is that this low-key immersion in contemporary Irish culture will lend my main character an authentic voice. Even if it doesn't, I adore all things Irish, and learning is never wasted.
How are you researching for NaNoWriMo? Tell us in the comments!
Learn more about NaNoWriMo (and sign up!) here.
Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.
After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.
In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.
As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.
Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?
Britt Sullivan, part time model and full time aspiring artist, is sick of living alone in the city…
Taking lame jobs just to make ends meet is leading Britt nowhere, and she knows something has to change. She needs some excitement, and when she meets blue-eyed Midwesterner Sam MacKellar at a photo shoot, she realizes he’s perfect for her in every way—well, except for the fact that he’s gay.
A devastating childhood trauma turned Sam’s whole life into a lie…
Sam came to New York City to escape an existence that had become unbearable, and when his job as a photographer’s assistant leads him to Britt, he realizes he’s finally met someone who sees him as he really is. But plagued by nightmares and trapped by his own deception, he doesn’t know how she can truly be part of his life.
Friendship leads to a passionate encounter and hidden dangers…
Britt comforts Sam though his nightmares, and they begin to explore their mutual attraction, but the tables are turned when Britt faces unwelcome attention from a manipulative art instructor and Sam must come to her defense.
Sam is terrified to reveal the source of his nightmares, sure the truth would shatter his complicated relationship with Britt, but when she suffers an unspeakable trauma of her own, only Sam can help her pick up the pieces.
When Britt learns the magnitude of Sam’s lies, will his reasons and the depth of their feelings be enough to allow her to forgive him? Does she have a future with Sam, or does his deception also include the reality of changing teams?