For Writers: Research Before Writing by Caroline Fardig

Contributor: Caroline Fardig, Author of That Old Black Magic

caroline fardigResearch, Research, Research!

Let’s face it, besides a book just being a flat-out snoozefest, what can make or break a story?  Believability.  Unless you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi, your story has some basis in the real world and should reflect that.  For example, if your heroine is a twenty-five-year-old world-renowned brain surgeon, that’s immediately unbelievable, because at twenty-five, she’d still be in med school (unless she’s Doogie Howser, but that would probably fall under the category of fantasy).  To keep from making big mistakes that otherwise would have been easily correctible, you need to do your research.

How, you ask?

Take a class

I’m taking a Forensics class this semester at a local college, and I am psyched!  At nearly 40, it’s going to be a transition for me to go back to school.  Hopefully I can handle being the oldest one in the class, not to mention twice everyone’s age and old enough to be their mother.  Yikes.  Anyway, after looking through the book we’ll be studying, I have already learned a few things that I can use in my current WIP.  Could I have bought the book and studied it on my own?  Probably.  But now I’ll have access to the teacher, an aficionado in the field.  Which brings me to my second point…

Ask people in the know

You probably have a diverse collection of friends and acquaintances who have interesting and unusual jobs and interests.  Someone you know is bound to have experience with any given topic you’re writing about.  Interview them!  People love to show off how much they know on a subject, and most people would be flattered to be asked for their help to make your book more true to life.

Find reputable sites on the Internet dedicated to that kind of information

There is a lot of information on the Internet.  Some is useful, some not so much.  You can normally tell by looking at a website whether it’s legit or not.  For example, you’d probably rather buy a pair of shoes from macys.com versus daves-shoe-barn.com, right?  Use your judgment, and cross-reference your findings.

Buy a research book

Get a book by a well-known expert in the field and treat it like you were studying for a test.  Get out that highlighter and go to work.  If you write a series with a common thread, you’ll use this resource for years.

Watch TV shows or movies in your genre

Most of the time the way something is portrayed on screen is sensationalized for Hollywood and rushed to fit within the allotted time slot, but sometimes they try to be accurate.  The main thing you can learn is character interaction.  Notice actors’ body language and characters’ reactions to what other characters say to them, listen to how dialogue flows (or doesn’t flow), and note what kinds of factors make you have an emotional reaction.  Decide whether you are most moved by someone’s words, actions, or facial expressions, and use that in your writing.

Whether you’re writing about forensics or fashion, you need to have your facts straight.  How many times have you read a book and said, “That could never happen in real life”?  The more believable your story is, the more real it will seem to your reader.  You’ll never go wrong knowing too much about a subject.

that old black magicAbout That Old Black Magic

Lizzie Hart hoped her first day back at work after nearly being killed would be uneventful.  No such luck.  Before she can finish her morning coffee, Lizzie and her co-workers find a dead body on the rooftop of their office.  Media vultures that they are, the Liberty Chronicle employees are psyched to have first-hand news to report.  Lizzie, however, is devastated when she realizes that the victim is her ex-boyfriend’s brother.

When evidence begins piling up against one of Lizzie’s friends, she reluctantly dons her detective hat once again, determined to find the real killer.  She’s not thrilled about chasing another psychopath around, but she’ll do anything for a friend.  Lizzie’s love life is rapidly becoming a hot mess, too.  Her latest attempt at sleuthing isn’t leaving much time for her budding romance with town hunk Blake Morgan.  Add that to the fact she’s hiding a secret so big it could rock the very core of their relationship, it’s no wonder that Lizzie’s in a tizzy.

Poor Lizzie ends up juggling a murder investigation, a wacky Wiccan coven, and two men vying for her attention—all while nursing injuries left over from the last time she decided to play Nancy Drew.  It’s a good thing she always has a few tricks up her sleeve.

About the Author:

CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline is currently hard at work churning out more novels in the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

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