When I wrote my first novel, if I didn’t know how something worked or what something was called, I made it up. It was science fiction, for Pete’s sake, and I had artistic license! But did I really?
In the years since, I have read dozens of works by new authors and have had my own first drafts corrected by the more knowledgeable. And let me tell you, it is usually pretty obvious when someone hasn’t done their research.
The hero’s running down the hallway of some bank, trying to catch the bad guy before he gets away with all the money and whoop-bang, the bad guy’s whipped out a weapon that’s the complete wrong era for the setting. Maybe only a few people will notice—maybe it’s just a decade off—or maybe half the reader’s audience will notice and the story’s flow is ruined for them.
Sure, that example could very well be caught by an editor. But what if an overlooked detail is supposed to be character-defining? Might a well-intended author have to undo weeks, if not months, of work?
Now, I’m not asking authors to research every article of clothing and every car. I’m just asking for some common sense. If your main character has a thing for cooking, you better have spent a few hours (at least) researching culinary technique and spices. Even if you are writing a science fiction, researching the way we do it on good ole Earth will help you be able to convey alien ideals in a convincing way.
Thanks to doing my research (and some with the help of good friends), I now know:
– How to load, unload, and fire a handgun and rifle
– More about being a transman than I ever would have imagined
– The layout of the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil
– What you need to conduct a multinational tour for a rock band
And so much more!
Believe me, your readers, be they close friends or agents and editors, will thank you. And who knows, you might learn something too.
Thanks for reading =)