On Writing: Research Your Novel

A little update, friends.

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have an idea for a brand new novel that is wayyyyyy out of my genre comfort zone. I’ve always hovered closer to YA contemporary/romance, though I once played around with adding elements of science-fiction/fantasy.

This new novel can be classified as a NA paranormal mystery. That’s a pretty big leap from what I’m used to writing.

Though it’s a big change, I believe that writers should seek to challenge themselves, whether it be through a short story or a new novel. For me, this novel is definitely going to be a challenge.

In a nutshell, it involves a haunted lake, a sunken town, and a few ghosts from the 1920’s that are coasting through life relatively unnoticed in the present day. That is, until another body washes up on the lake, which happens to be the sister of my new MC, Maya Vaughn.

I’m still working on developing Maya’s character, which is enough of a challenge itself. Add in the fact that I know little to nothing about the 1920’s, other than watching The Great Gatsby three-thousand times.

My solution? RESEARCH!

In this post, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned through my process of researching this novel. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Ask specific questions

It’s helpful to have a general idea or a basic novel outline before diving into this first step. A critical part of my research deals with the 1920’s. If I hadn’t established that before cracking open my laptop, I’d be pretty lost.

But let’s take a look at a few specifics for my research of that decade:

  1. Language – common slang words, dialect, etc.?

  2. Geography – what did the setting look like then? Did it differ from bigger cities or other?

  3. Lifestyle – what was a typical day like for someone living in this decade? How does this change based on working/social class?

Of course, this will differ based on your genre and individual story, but it’s worth considering ahead of time!

2. Use Pinterest

Using Pinterest as a visual reference can be useful when researching your novel. Personally, I like to compile aesthetic boards for individual characters and found this especially helpful for this novel.

Character boards can be a great reference when writing, and Pinterest is always there for you to add more as things come to mind.

For example, one of the ghosts haunting the town in my novel was formerly a flapper. I enjoyed using Pinterest as a tool to put this visual reference together. Here’s my character aesthetic board for Olivia/Alice:

3. Get to know your setting

Though my novel deals with the 1920’s, it’s set in present day. I’ve never visited the town in which my novel is set, but this is why Google is such a blessing!

I thoroughly researched my setting, including reviews of the town from residents. This gives me an idea of how the locals feel about the town and what there is to do around that area.

If you want to give your novel an extra dose of reality, research real shops and restaurants in your setting. This is better than basing your scene in a generic place that you may have pictured in your head.

That’s it, friends! I hope you find these tips helpful.

Just keep in mind that no matter what genre you’re writing or the amount of research you need to do, don’t let this step of the writing process keep you from actually writing! Instead, use it as a stepping stone to spark your imagination and fill that empty page 🙂

Do you have any tips for researching a novel? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

#amresearching #novel #research #writer

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