» Posted on Dec 3, 2006 in Blog | Comments Off on Research

Research can strike dread in some writers and others can immerse themselves in research and almost forget to write the book. I think I am the happy middle of the road kind of writer concerning research. We are so much more capable of researching from our homes today than when I first started out because of the Internet. Online is a great way to start and even finish with your research on certain topics. Starting with a google search is probably the best way to see what is available. Some sites will be great while others I wouldn’t waste my time on. Not only visiting web sites that deal with the topic I need to research, the Internet is a great place to talk to and interview a person who may be an expert in the field or work in it. I am on several large loops of writers (FHL, KOD and ACFW) and when I have a question I always pose it there to see if anyone knows someone or can answer the question herself. I usually get what I need and fast.

Of course, another place to research is by reading books on the subject. I’ve often gone to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and done a search on the topic and come up with some wonderful books to read. I’ve gone to the bookstore or library and found great ones, too.

When I was researching about hostage negotiators, I read the manual they use which was of course a great source of information (found by doing an Amazon search), but I also interviewed a hostage negotiator for a police department in our area. She turned out not only to do the hostage negotiator for her police department but was also a female and a homicide detective which was what my heroine was in Hearts on the Line, June 2006 Love Inspired Suspense. And even better she was a Christian who openly had books about the Lord in her office. We talked for a long time about being a hostage negotiator, a homicide detective, a captain of police and a Christian. She told me about how her faith had sustained her through seeing some rough things in the line of duty. I couldn’t have asked for a better source and the way I found her was through networking. I went to a writer’s group when another woman police officer was talking, and she hooked me up with the police captain who was a friend.

Another way to research is to go to the source. When I was writing a book on the rain forest, I visited one and made sure I took a trek through the jungle to get the feel of the place. I planned my vacation around doing that. I know I can’t always do that, but it sure helped. Once I wrote a book that dealt a lot with scuba diving so I took lessons and learned how. Very interesting and helpful. Just recently I went out to a shooting range and shot off all kinds of weapons while a friend’s husband told me about the guns. Because I write romantic suspense, this will be helpful in the future. What you see on television isn’t totally right concerning guns and weapons. That was a very interesting day.

I will say there are some channels on television and some shows, though, that are helpful to a writer for research purposes. I recently saw a Primetime show on foster care, and I’m doing a three book series on foster care as the backdrop for the stories. I have a friend who will be doing a book around pirates and the History Channel had a wonderful show about pirates which I told her she needed to watch.

So, as you see, researching is all about who you know and getting in and digging around (I actually went to a dig in Arizona and worked it to get the feel of what an archaeologist does). It is important to research because believe me if you get it wrong there will be readers out there who will let you know. Remember you not only have to research the big areas but the small ones, too. I had a page in one of my books involving using dogs for search and rescue in my Vanished story and I did tons of research just for that one page. Sometimes the little things will cause you to do more research than the bigger ones.

What are some great research sources you have used? I will list some of mine below but most of mine will have to do with murder and mayhem. I will also list some of my favorite books on writing. If you have one that I haven’t listed, what is it?

The Five Love Languages (How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate) by Gary Chapman
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
When You’re the Only Cop in Town… by Jack Berry and Debra Dixon
Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon
Just the Facts, Ma’am by Greg Fallis
Howdunit (How crimes are committed and solved Edited by John Boertlein
Deadly Doses (A writer’s guide to poisons) by Serita Stevens with Anne Klarner
Prescription for Plotters by Carolyn Greene
Scene of the Crime (A writer’s guide to crime-scene investigations) by Anne Wingate
Murder One (A writer’s guide to homicide) by Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino
On-Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators by Frederick J. Lanceley
Strictly Murder! (A writer’s guide to criminal homicide) by Martin Roth
Light for My Path (Bible verses dealing with various subjects) Barbour Publishing
Outdoor Survival by Garth Hattingh
Geographic Profiling by D. Kim Rossmo
The Practical Archaeologist by Jane McIntosh
Honolulu CSI (An introduction to Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation by Gary A. Dias and Robbie Dingeman
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers by Lynn Quitman Troyka (grammar rules)
Amazon Wildlife by Discovery Channel