Whether you do it at the beginning or throughout, you can't write a novel without completing some research. I'll admit, sometimes the mere thought of researching a topic turns me off from writing the story. Like most writers, story ideas hit me all the time, but very few of them stick after an initial mental outline. Do I really want to research 16th century pirates? Chinese politics of the 1800s? Studying abroad in South Korea? No, not really.
But sometimes the answer to my question is yes, which is why I currently have two novels outlined, and why I spent last Saturday shooting at the gun range. In my opinion, there's nothing better than first-hand experience when it comes to research. (Side note: I tried to have the same mindset yesterday while changing out a toilet, but no dice. Toilets are dirty, and I'm not planning on writing about one anytime soon.)
As for researching my novels, I'm not about to sit in on an autopsy or anything like that, but I have talked to a detective or two, and one of my husband's friends has a degree in mortuary science and is always willing to answer my morbid questions. I couldn't write murder mysteries (even if they are cozies) without these folks. And thank goodness for the Internet! I use it for so much research. Just yesterday I researched the specs of a Bell 427 helicopter, the distance from Savannah, GA to Meadowbrook, AL, and the recipe for a moisturizing mud mask (did I mention they were beauty cozies?). In the future I hope to take part in conference or two to learn even more. Moving to PA and being closer to the east coast should help, geographically at least.
Okay, back to research for me. Can any of you tell I'm excited to be writing again?
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