Having looked at a lot of writerly websites, a lot of authors share their writing tips, which can be amazingly helpful, but one thing I noticed was that a lot of them mention research but don’t necessarily share tips on this aspect of their writing.
Who am I to help, you might ask? It has been a while since I wrote and researched academically for my undergraduate and Masters degrees, but there are some skills you learn along the way that don’t really leave you. With that in mind, I thought I’d start a series of little blog posts to help you in your research, whether that’s for the sciencey-side of murder or for a historical period. So let’s go!
Top Tip Number 3 – Prioritising sources for your best writing practice.
Before you start deciding what you’re going to tackle first, I have some questions for you:
- What’s causing you the most stress?
- What do you think will require the most time?
- What do you need for your first chapter/scene?
- What do you need for your overall understanding to enable you to write your book?
- What do you think is the most important?
- What is key/central to your plot?
- If you’re writing your draft at the same time, how can you dovetail this research to fit with your writing?
The next step is to look at these answers and the answer to any other questions you come up with, to decide the order in which you need to tackle your research. Now you can create a to-do list! I love a to do list, but I realise not everyone does. The reason it’s suggested is because it helps you keep track and gives you the satisfaction of ticking things off.
Again, though, don’t forget that sometimes what’s important is getting the words of your draft down. Particularly if you’re in danger of losing momentum. So if you find yourself getting bogged down in research, make a note on your manuscript that you need to fix that part in your next pass through and move on.