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Even the best writers say, “Write what you know.” It’s an old mantra that writers hear all the time from key note speakers at writing conferences. Although it is important for you to write within the spectrum of your experience, it is also important to write a compelling story that convinces readers of the legitimacy of setting, feasibility, and character sincerity. Research then becomes essential.

If a writer is an American soldier, he might want to write about war. Great, he is writing what he knows. But what if that soldier wants to write about war in outer space, or war in ancient Rome. Time for some research. The soldier writer might well know the fear, physical toil, and psychological storms that happen on the battlefront, but he might not know anything about ancient Rome or space propulsion. Our soldier writer has some research to do.

Research happens to be one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I gues I would even go work for some research paper service, if had time. I get to explore new worlds, experience fresh cultures, learn about unfamiliar art, food, history, and culture. Look at research as an opportunity to learn, whether or not you actually end up writing the piece for which you spend the time researching to lay a convincing tapestry of context.

Research can begin early in the writing process. So far, with your story, you have put down a few notes about theme, character, and a basic roadmap of your story in 3 acts. By now, you might be thinking about the setting in which you want your story to unfold. You might be slating the perfect time period, country, town, community, dimension, or whatever the flavor. It’s time for a few research assignments. There’s no Jr. High School teacher standing over you, giving you specific assignments. It’s all up to you.


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Craig Nybo
Craig Nybo

Craig Nybo writes novels, screenplays, and short stories. He also composes and records music. Craig lives in Kaysville, Utah with his lovely wife and children.

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