Raising the bar – Part 2

by juliusmsanz

What else can you do to raise the bar as a writer?

Part 1 sounded easy enough, and this is too.

One little thing that is often overlooked but really makes the difference.

Research.

Yeah, that is what can make your book readable or an immersive experience. Just another thing I completely forgot while writing my first story. It’s easy to discredit research, it’s boring work, it won’t feature heavily in fiction and it’s mostly used to make sure everything is tidy. But proper research goes way beyond that. It can mean the difference if you’re writing about characters going through any experience you haven’t faced. Hell, even if you faced something if doesn’t mean you know all that there is to know. Just a little bit of research can make your character three-dimensional, or it can really flesh out the setting, or even make the plot more believable.

And yet it’s mostly dismissed, because let’s face it: it can get very overwhelming. As a writer one does that: write. What does it mean I need to check out some articles on trauma? What does it mean I need to read some history books to know how people were and what they did in the 30’s? I can make it as I go along.

No, you can’t.

Unless, of course, you are prepared to have people criticize your work.

Any good writer knows that the book will be better the more immersive it is. Just look at Lord of the Rings and the amount of work Tolkien had on his story. And while it gets a little bit easier with fiction you still have to create your society, your universe, and that demands work and research. You are writing about a character who just went through a traumatic experience, you need to hit the books, you are writing about a police procedural, you hit the books, are you writing about an exotic place? You need to hit the books. Trust me on this, you don’t want to look like a complete amateur. If you forget that people didn’t use cars in mid-eighteenth century, then your readers will laugh at you and then bring you down with full force. That’s just the way things are. Don’t think that you know everything and don’t think you won’t need to look up on certain things.

When can you say you’ve researched enough? I’m not saying you need to read a hundred books, but try to do at least the minimum, it’s not that hard, and you can even learn something interesting. Just remember that you have to read enough to write about it for as long as you want to write it.

So please, do your research. It can be a lifesaver.

Stay tuned for part three tomorrow.

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