Thursday, September 1, 2016

Are You a Researcher? by Hilary Wagner

Eureka! I have discovered how to turn litter into catnip!
Definition: A researcher is someone who conducts research, i.e., an organized and systematic investigation into something.

Call me a nerd, but I love doing research. I buy used research books by the cart full, rent and record applicable documentaries, email experts (who are generally great at responding), and do my best to make sure I get things right. Depending on what you're writing, research can be tricky. Even if you're writing fantasy the basics have to be right. It goes towards your story's credibility and can only strengthen it.

Currently, I have a new novel out to my agent and I've had to do hours upon hours of non-stop research on everything from the life-cycle of salmon to highly poisonous garden plants. I went to some challenging schools, where proper note taking was a must, with endless numerical and alphabetical bullets for every assignment. I never thought it would help me now, with the help of MS OneNote--much faster than writing in all in the five-subject notebooks I had back in school. That said, I openly apologize to all the teachers I secretly glared at during class who I thought were purposely trying to give me carpal tunnel! THANK YOU!!!! ;)

I generally do my research as I go. I never outline, so you outliners out there may do it all before you even start the actually writing, which I applaud you for, as I tend to start with a big picture and detail down. As the definition states, a researcher does an organized and systematic investigation. The last thing I'd call myself if organized and systematic (just ask Michael, our blog manager!), but I'm still sure to get my facts straight.

If I use the internet, I stay far away from sites like Wikipedia, because while much of the content on certain subjects may be posted by experts, you just never know...which leads me back to that credibility piece. 

So, how do you approach research? Any nerdy research secrets you'd like to share? Do you love it or loathe it? Are there certain sites you recommend? We'd love to hear from you! 

Thanks for your input!



  1. I ADORE research too! Mostly for world building...of course, I get so wrapped up in it that I ... um ... procrastinate and dont get down to writing! What I have learned is to do basic research and insert a comment in the MS to add more with links with information I've found to read up more on it. Then I feel covered and can keep writing and come back to it later.

    1. Yes, it's GREAT for world building! Sometimes my research brings me on a totally new course I never would have thought of!

      Thanks, Donna!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!