5 Book Research Tips From Bestselling Fiction Authors

Book research tips


Sure, the saying ‘Write what you know’ has some truth, yet if that’s all we wrote, our fiction would be bland. Several years ago, I penned an article about setting in fiction for a writing magazine. The angle was how research field trips could enrich your writing.

As a longtime reporter, hands-on research comes naturally to me. I’m used to picking up the phone, explaining that I’m a writer, and requesting a tour and interview. I’ve done it for hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, so I have no qualms about seeking out experts to research my novels.

However, some authors feel hesitant about e-mailing or cold-calling a stranger for research purposes, especially writers without a publishing track record. Here’s my advice: do it anyway. Agents and acquisitions editors trust writers who strive for accuracy. Readers love authors who plunge them into settings brimming with authentic details. Field trips can expand a writer’s knowledge base and offer opportunities to gather color, atmosphere, and on-scene information unavailable in a research book or on the Internet.

Recently on the Shortcuts for Writers blog, I shared interviews from five authors whose anecdotes and tips appeared in my original article. These authors are Lisa Gardner, Janet Evanovich, Deborah Donnelly, Jodi Picoult, and Stephen Coonts. Readers will find their extensive research process fascinating, and writers will be inspired by their attention to detail. Stop by my Shortcuts for Writers blog to read the full post.

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