1. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    Non-Fiction: How long do you spend researching your book?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by The95Writer, May 31, 2014.

    Do you do extensive research before you even begin, or do you research and then write about your research as you go along?
     
  2. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    "How long do you spend researching your book?" - not long enough. It depends really, the other day I familiarised with the basics of 16th century housing, work, politics, education and just general life. That being said I'm sure questions will come up during my writing.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As long as it takes. I always end up doing research as I'm writing, though. Sometimes there are interesting tangents you want to explore but that you haven't done much research on. There also might be extra passages you want to look up and cite because they'll strengthen your piece.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Before each academic piece I usually dedicate at least a few weeks reading all the important related documents, and then, mostly importantly, I give them a week to settle on my mind before writing the actual paper. With my undergrad dissertation I dedicated 6 months to research.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It seems to me that the only proper answer to this is what @thirdwind said: you research for as long as it takes. You need to gather the material necessary for writing your piece, and you spend whatever time is required to do that.

    I also want to second the point @Lemex made: It's a good idea to let the material settle in your mind. You have to let it sink into your bones. You don't really understand something the moment you read it. Internalize it, let it become part of who you are, and you can then speak authoritatively about it.
     
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  6. Holden Caufeild
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    Holden Caufeild New Member

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    I've spent anywhere between a month and a year on certain topics before even beginning the writing process.

    The best advice I can give on this topic is to choose something you are genuinely interested in and not to feel obligated to write about what is popular.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...as long as it takes to get all the info i need...

    ...depends on the subject matter and how much info i need before i start writing...

    ...i have no set process, length of time, whatever... nor should anyone... it would make no sense whatsoever, to rigidly stick to one way or the other for all projects...

    ...cog has a great stock response for questions like the one in your title:

    'how long is a piece of string?'
     
  8. WeWill77
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    WeWill77 Member

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    I don't think your research will ever be complete. But you will probably reach a point where you can say what you'd set out to say about a subject, and you've answered all the questions you'd set out to answer (except those few that still baffle all 7 billion of us). I'd say you can write your draft any time, but it'll be a lot easier if you wait until you have most of your info. If you write it before you research, you'll end up laughing at your own ignorance and rewriting huge chunks of it.
     
  9. A.J. Pruitt
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    A.J. Pruitt Member

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    Putting this thread and the question into its proper context, the responder needs to ask what the piece is about and in what era. If the author is writing fantasy fiction, whatever comes to the author’s imagination will be suffice. If the piece is true to life, but fiction, be realistic with your events, era, characters and conclusions. Reading university research papers is a great place to research actual events, conditions and settings of the time when writing long ago, factual based history. Read and take tons of notes. Don't be lazy.

    Western (cowboy stories) that include historical names and events should be researched carefully. The genre that the author needs to research painstakingly and exhaustively are the true to fact pieces where the subjects of the story are still alive and tend to go public with the correct version of the story. An author who carelessly makes mistakes when writing of actual events or peoples names or their rolls in the events is setting himself/herself up for public ridicule and terrible embarrassment.

    To put it in short form, an author of a successfully published, modern, true to fact piece will more than likely be asked to do public presentations to discuss the story or his writings. There can be nothing more embarrassing than to have a member of the audience, who was actually part of the events in the piece, stand and correct the author or proclaim the story is full of errors.

    Some genres require meticulous and exhaustive research. Other pieces (such as historical ghost writing) require personal interviews plus exhaustive research. Never be lazy with research. It can break an author or make him/her a success.
     
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  10. Chrysostom
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    Chrysostom Member

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    Very good discussion. For me, it depends on which situation.

    Before we write, we will definitely have to do research. When I knew I was going to make samurai-themed story, I had to research about samurai, weapons, and Japanese culture, language and history. There are the times when I stuck in my writing as well because I need to research about, for example, a structure in police department. This can take a lot of time.

    Other than that, I always take everything I see, watch, and play as part of my research. By doing this, sometimes I'm inspired by something, mix it, and come up with a new idea to put in my story.
     
  11. Chesster
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    Chesster Member

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    I have extensively researched the current novel I am writing, mainly due to the location being foreign to me and also the fact of the book being set in the 40s and 50s. My main character is a travelling Hobo so i had to look at the main freight train routes of the time and industry popularity and I also discovered that Hobo's used to leave carved marks at small town stations, that would translate as to whether the town had a doctor who would help a poor man in need or if the town was good for work.

    Research for me, is very dependent on your prior understanding of your subject that you are tackling. If you have anything unfamiliar then I think the "going in blind" approach could leave you short in detail on the location and all the other key back ground points.

    On a personal level, I enjoy research because I know that I am gaining a palpable mind map of the story I am writing. As long as the research doesn't meander off the mark, when you finally sit down to begin, you will be in better shape to write stronger, detailed paragraphs.
     
  12. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    I don't believe in allowing research drive a project. I write fiction. Not non fiction. So I feel perfectly happy making up stuff that only a few dozen people in the world would know much about. Then as I progress through the book, I will make notes to check on the moderate accuracy of some obvious issues.t
    I have part of my book set in Paris. So I spent a few hours touring Paris in Google street view. Picked up one or two main street names and made the rest up.
    I find stories that insist on accurate technical terminology tiresome myself.
     
  13. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    For non fiction, I make a list of chapter titles. These may or may not be the real titles. Then, I do as much research as it takes to create great chapters for these titles. Sometimes, I wind up with more titles which needs more research. But that's what makes a book better.
     
  14. KeriLynn
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    KeriLynn Member

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    Normally I research as I go. Like if I'm writing a crime thriller and I want to know the legalities of stalking or something then I'll look it up then.
     

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