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Creative Writers Do Their Research

By Author: Peter James
Total Articles: 37

Many writers hate research. They don't want to spend hours, days, months and sometimes even years researching a topic for a story or novel. They just want to write. When it comes to research, creative writers should only write what they know. Exclusive topics written in your field of experience will not only make you sound like an expert on your topic to your readers, but you will also be avoiding lengthy research sessions. But if you want to write about pirates on open seas, then prepare to do some research. Even if you only watch a few pirate movies, documentaries and read a few books, you have to know what you're talking about.
If you want to write about Thailand, then the best research you can do is to go their for yourself and experience things as closely to how your character would experience them. Taste the food, go sightseeing, mingle with the locals, and get first hand experience of life there. Of course if you are writing a historical novel or a futuristic novel, a writer can't actually travel through time. However, museums and space camps and meeting with university professors is a great place to start! To be a successful creative writer, you must absorb information like a sponge. Doing your research, visiting your setting in person and experiencing a new perspective will add realism and detail to your novel that would otherwise escape your awareness. If you have the opportunity to experience the location of your story in person, then do what it takes to get there.
The Internet is an excellent resource. If you are writing a story that takes place in Japan, then there are plenty of websites where you can interact with expats. Skype, email and Facebook will help you keep in touch. If you are writing about wildlife in Africa, there are some nature-protection websites that have posted cameras throughout national parks to monitor wildlife and protect them from poachers. So although you may not be able to afford that trip that your character makes in real life, you can still use the Internet to get as close as you possibly can. Research has never been more easy.
Another resource is reading other books. Writers who are on a tight budget and may not be able to afford computer or have access to the Internet at home can visit libraries where computers are available to write and a plethora of information in a seemingly endless supply of books all for free!
Travel books can take you, as the author, to far away places. The most exotic places you could possibly dream of! Non-fiction memoirs can give you a good idea of what life was really like for those who journeyed and fiction can provide you with that extra bit of creativity.
If you still are having trouble, that the library is a bit too far or doesn't have the books you need, you don't have the means to travel yourself, and you don't have access to a computer or Internet in your own home, then consider meeting with groups. A local expert perhaps, or a travel group that has recently returned from their latest expedition. Contacting the local newspaper or browsing through the phone books can get you started in the right direction. However you choose to do your research, always add those bit of details of the senses (touch, taste, sound, sight, smell) to give your creative writing that bit of extra edge.

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