Research, Research and More Research

One of the main reasons I never attempted writing a novel before was that I thought I didn’t have it in me to handle the extreme amounts of research it would take, that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough. The thought of keeping up on all of it, and keeping organized notes, was more daunting than coming up with ideas and characters.

Some of you may know that because of this, I also was dead set on writing a collection of short horror stories first, because shorts seemed so much easier to do. I even wrote a full one and sent it in to a publication journal. However, after that was rejected, and after a conversation with an author I really look up to (thank you, Dan Wells!), I realized I really need to put on my big girl pants, get over my fears, and write a novel, dammit.

Anyway, I had an idea to write about and content just flew out of me. Some didn’t make sense, although the flow of it ended up in a beginning to end format somehow, but what mattered to me first was I get the general idea of who was going to be doing what and when and how it turned out. That alone got me a little past 200 pages in my Google Drive document, so that was encouraging. After that, I went back and tweaked a few things, but mostly kept it the way it was, and polished up the sections I had with proper punctuation and a little more content to make things flow better. At this time, I had the help of my husband, Derek, and one of my best friends, Chris. Derek mostly helped by reading what I had and letting me know if what I had so far was making sense and had a good flow, and Chris helped with a LOT of additional content ideas. I seriously couldn’t have done this without them.

Finally, the research came, the part of writing that I had been dreading (and putting off) for so long. I started at the beginning and wrote out a rough timeline (nope, I didn’t start out with one, which I found actually made things easier) of events to ensure the time of year written about in various chapters was correct. Then I wrote out as much as I possibly could about each character, and not just physical descriptions, to get me to understand them better so I could in turn write them better. In doing this, I actually created a new character that is now notably the best one (yay!), so I’m really happy I did this when I did. I brought two additional proofreaders onto my “staff,” each with a different style of reading, Nate and Liz. Derek’s mother, Maureen, also read what I had and gave great feedback. If it wasn’t for this core group of friends and family, I wouldn’t have been able to even finish this. They inspire and help me so much.

Now it was time for fact checking and asking other people for information I didn’t know anything about. I’ve interviewed a police officer, had an artist sketch up the costume for Grim, had another artist create the Grim logo/front cover of the first book, asked around about scientific details that I knew I wanted to include but wasn’t sure how to write about, and researched a LOT of the city the story is set in. And you know what’s hilarious? I LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF THIS. Learning new things that can make my book better and better is thrilling. Figures the one thing I was scared of turned out to be one of the things I enjoy most about writing a novel!

If you’re thinking of writing a book, do it. Just try. You’ll never know what it’s like until you do it, and your fears may just be the things that help you the most.

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