Want to Write a Book? Better Do Your Research

March 7, 2018

 

Before it became internet trolls' favorite way of dismissing anyone who disagrees with the point they’re making, nobody argued the validity of being told those three magic words: Do your research.

 

Good research is foundational to just about any published book, nonfiction or fiction. If you’re writing about art or science, geography or culture, world history or your own life, you owe it to your book and your subject matter to get the details right. Having a surface-level understanding of the ideas you’re writing about is one thing; knowing where they came from, understanding the nuances that color them, and providing the necessary context for readers is quite another.

 

Novels take research a step further still—it’s crucial to understand every aspect about the people and places in your story, whether they’re real or imaginary. If you’re writing a novel set in a town you’ve never visited, you need to make sure you know the conventions of the time and place—how did people dress and talk, what did they do for a living, how did the events of the world affect them? It wouldn’t make much sense, for instance, for a character from 1850 to tell someone “We’re not in Kansas anymore”—both because Kansas didn’t become a territory until 1854 or a state until 1861, and The Wizard of Oz wasn’t released until 1939. (Actually, just don’t use that line in general. It’s been done.)

 

So if you want to become an author and you’re not a professional researcher, how can you make sure you don’t lose credibility by not knowing the facts?

 

In addition to expertise in writing, editing, and publishing, a certified ghostwriter has an impeccable research skillset. Whatever the type of book and subject matter, a certified ghostwriter guides you through gathering your own information, helps supplement what you have with further research, or conducts full-scale research for you using any of the following methods (to name only a few):

 

  • Conducting Interviews. Regardless of whether you have boxes full of relevant notes or nothing but an idea scribbled on a cocktail napkin, you and your certified ghostwriter will sit down at the beginning of your project and talk it over from start to finish. For novels, memoirs, and books the author has lived with so long that they know every conceivable detail, interviews could fill out most, if not all, of your book. Or, interview sessions could reveal that there’s a lot of outside research left to be done. Either way, your certified ghostwriter records your sessions, which could be done in person, over the phone or video conference, or even email, and then transcribes them.

  • Synthesizing Your Notes. You likely have at least some notes about your project. But are they enough? A certified ghostwriter helps you determine any gaps in your research, and works with you to fill in missing information. The result, paired with the interview transcripts, becomes the outline of your book—the bones that support the meat of your story.

  • Searching Databases, Archives, and the Internet. The overabundance of accessible information in the world is a double-edged sword for writers and researchers. On one hand, you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about virtually any subject. On the other, there may be real limits on your free time, your desire to dig deep into minutiae rather than simply telling the story, knowing where to find what you need, and determining whether you can trust the information. Certified ghostwriters are highly media-literate, and have deep experience finding material and sussing out the good information from the bad.

  • Understanding Related Media. Be it books, movies, songs, plays, courses, speeches, podcasts, webinars, or other media, a certified ghostwriter gathers and processes all necessary background information and puts your book in conversation with contextually relevant titles about your topic.

  • Brainstorming. Often more relevant to novels than works of nonfiction, these sessions include talking about character traits and motivations, plotting the story, and determining how much additional information will be necessary to bring your vision to life. Do you know your main character’s education level, social class, first car, and what she would eat for her last meal on Earth? If not, that kind of information—“research” for the fiction writer—comes out during this phase.

 

During your free consultation, you’ll talk with your certified ghostwriter about how much research is needed to complete your book, and who will be responsible for it. Scope and responsibilities vary widely depending on the project, but whatever your needs, a certified ghostwriter can help fill them—and in the process, save you tons of time, effort, and heartburn.

 

Don’t get blocked doing the research—call (800) 717-3314 or email pov@povghostwriting.com for a free consultation and take the first step toward fulfilling your literary ambitions.

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