The Fun of Research — Jill James

Recently, I had the privilege of reading a fellow writer’s current story. It was a great story and you could really tell that she did her research. Her book included sign language, bee-keeping, and photography. She did an excellent job of weaving the research into the story without an info dump. An info dump is when an author shows off that they did research and wants to include every little tidbit they found in the story. LOL

Even a contemporary story can make a writer do insane amounts of research. You could set your story in Texas and you better know where and when the bluebells bloom. Have a story set in San Francisco and you need to know monthly weather like February is a great month to visit, cable car routes and where they go, and whether the sea lions are at or have left Pier 39.

A science fiction romance still needs science fiction facts to make it believable. Distances between planets and galaxies can make your story real or implausible. If interspecies relations are allowed and how they are possible. Like they said in a Star Trek movie, not all genitals are located in the same place.

Once you get all those facts right, then you have to weave them seamlessly into the story so the reader doesn’t notice that you did so. You can show small places in your story with a fact that adds to the richness of the story, but doesn’t overpower with hit-you-over-the-head factoids. Don’t mention the whole history of matches, just have the hero use one of those newfangled things. Don’t tell the whole history of shipping, let the heroine marvel at how fast she is getting from England to India on a steamer.

Writers love research. Sometimes we love it so much that you have to drag us back to the story. We can spend hours checking facts and discovering new ones. That is the fun of research.

Do you know any fun facts to share?

Jill James, writer of romance and lover of research.
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4 thoughts on “The Fun of Research — Jill James

  1. I did research for my current book, lots because it was a historical piece. It was fascinating, and I spent a lot longer on research than I should have 😀

  2. Research is essential..Especially regionally. Language, weather, even little holidays. But, info dump is boring. Research is to help with the setting. To get a feel for what the era was like, or the place, not over load with every little bit of information. It has to be tasteful. Historical novels can really overload on the info dump. Just make it real, and engage the reader so they’ll invest their time to read the book.

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