It’s an inevitable part of the writing process.  Whether you’re writing historical fiction, romance, or fantasy, at least at one point, as you’re working on your story, you’ll have to do some research.

I enjoy doing research.  It can help you accurately describe real locations, clothing, cars, and even household appliances.  It can add authenticity to your work by showing the reader you have a working knowledge of the subject, setting, location, or time period.  And while it’s easy to go down the research rabbit hole – I do often – the end result can be a better story.

Assignment #1

For this writing exercise:

  • Pick an object in the room with you.  Something simple.  A pen.  An eraser.  A legal pad.
  • Write a short paragraph describing the object.  You can be as descriptive as you’d like.
  • Now, fire up your computer and research that specific object.  If it has a name on it (Bic, Tops, Dixon Ticonderoga), start there. 
  • Write down – or copy and paste – any information you find about the history of the object, what it’s made of, other uses for the object, etc.
  • Once you’ve done that…

Assignment #2

You’ll be writing two paragraphs using the research information you found.

  • Write a paragraph that describes the object, weaving in the information you found as if you were trying to sell the object to someone.  Make the reader feel that not only is this the best object ever, but they can’t go another second without it in their life!
  • Write a paragraph where a character is searching for the object and has to explain its history and importance to another character.  How can you make these dry, uninteresting facts and information entertaining and engaging to a reader?

A Valuable Tool

While most people were relieved to get away from research once they finished school, for a writer, it’s another excellent skill to have in their toolbox.  No matter the topic of interest, research can enhance your descriptive skills, add a layer of history to a location or object, and give readers a true sense that you understand your subject.

And it can be a lot of fun to do, too!

Happy Researching, and I’ll see you next time!

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