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How to write a novel | Research


You can make it all up when you’re writing fiction, but it makes it more plausible if you do some research. I tried to research this lake in the picture, to try to find the history of it this morning. Times change though and records get lost, so making research more difficult. You can however look at research from a different angle and that was what I did researching this lake which was enlarged in the 1980’s to prevent the river from flooding. I researched the river instead and that turned up more information. Incidentally, it’s Forge Mill Lake in Sandwell Valley, in case local readers don’t recognise it. The river that passes alongside it is the River Tame.

Sources of information when you are doing research are, the internet, libraries, museums, archives and people. Getting a feel for a place can give you the emotions that you might expect to feel in a certain situation. I think it would be useful to visit a space centre if you were going to write science fiction, for example. A crime writer would perhaps learn lots of useful information and be inspired by a visit to a police station.

I have mentioned my character Nick in previous posts about writing a novel. I want to send him on a journey through English towns and countryside and I think the mode of transport should be a camper van. I can send him on an adventure and be fairly spoiled for choice regarding what he does and who he meets. I do need to decide on his social class. I think upper working class or lower middle class or even working class aspiring to be middle class would work. I think he should have a wandering spirit like a gypsy, but I do need a climax. Maybe some disaster can befall him as an anti-climax, but everything work out good as a climax to the story. I have made storylines too complex in the past and so although a few twists and turns will make the story interesting, it needs to be clear and not confuse the reader. Maybe he could be looking for something and he finds a place and a person to settle down with and loses his desire to wander. That sounds like it could have a romantic ending. What do you think? Could our handsome wandering gypsy meet a milk maid or something and settle down? I would prefer something a little more unusual. I think we need to know more about my protagonist, he could have some useful skills that he acquired in the past. We tend to communicate well with other through the things we are good at. I could make him an engineer, gardener, technology genius or just someone who is physically fit enough for anything. He could have an unusual trait, I once gave a protagonist a fetish for fried breakfasts and good food. That was a comedy though. Any ideas?

Have a think about my story, so far. Any ideas where it could go from here? My blog, How to write fiction over on a Zillion Ideas might help… Why not pop over there and check that out. Do comment if you have any ideas or questions.


8 responses

  1. River looks very full, Mike. Stay dry!

    13, June 2012 at 11:37 am

  2. Hi Myfanwy,

    That is the lake and it joins to the river to prevent flooding. I just researched all that and it seems there are three lakes to take up any excess water.

    I’m trying to fix WordPress I keep getting an error message, seems OK now.

    Thanks for visiting..

    13, June 2012 at 1:28 pm

  3. That’s very helpful insights you have. Yes, it will always help if you do some research before doing any fictitious novels. I am doing extra work on researches especially my novel requires human emotions and struggles also I have a pending YA fantasy which includes a little sci-fi and psychology.
    Novels depict human life and protagonists convey a portion of who we are. The twists should include exaggerated emotions and facts proven to stir up human interests.
    With regards to your ongoing story, love story is always heart warming since we often fall in love with love (we get tired with people lol), why not meet up your male protagonist with a female burglar who stole his most precious possession… Virtue maybe. Just kidding!

    18, June 2012 at 5:12 am

    • Hi, thanks for the suggestion. I had in mind that he might lose everything and someone comes to the rescue. Maybe he could lose his camper van? My friend Martin writes YA fiction. You can find his website at . He is on his third novel in a trilogy. Some of his novels were free as eBooks for the Kindle. His stories are very popular with young people, but I would have preferred them to be more plausible. They stretch my imagination a little too far!

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

      18, June 2012 at 10:44 am

  4. Pingback: How to write a novel | Character profile « Mike10613's Blog

  5. Pingback: How to write a novel | The story so far « Mike10613's Blog

  6. Pingback: How to write a novel | English Countryside « Mike10613's Blog

  7. Pingback: How to write a novel | transatlantic ideas « Mike10613's Blog

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