As an author, I much prefer actual writing time over doing research, but as a reader, I know how much I appreciate thorough and accurate research. Is there anything worse than reading a book and realizing the author has the facts or the culture or the settings wrong? Regardless of how good the rest of the story may be, the author’s credibility is gone—a tough thing to get back.
That’s the reason I force myself to spend at least as much time researching a book as I do writing it. I would much rather jump right in and start writing, but I’ve learned the hard way that accurate writing and faithful fans demand otherwise.
Right now I’m researching my 2015 Christmas novel, a story about a Marine who comes home from his second tour in the Middle East. He has PTSD but refuses to admit it, despite the harm he is doing to his family and friends. In the midst of researching PTSD, I found that many of the symptoms are similar to Attachment Disorder, most often found in children who have lost one of both caregivers at a very early age.
I began thinking/praying about these similarities and realized what a great story could come from combining the two—a returning vet with PTSD and an adopted child with Attachment Disorder. Voila! The research brought me to a place of outlining my story.
But then I have to “put skin on” my story skeleton. I firmly believe we can do only so much online research before we have to bring in human resources. And so I have connected with a few current and former military members who know firsthand about tours in the Middle East and PTSD. Thanks to their gracious and willing input and assistance, I’m excited to see how this new story comes together via comprehensive research.
Whether a writer or a reader (or both), most everyone needs to do research at some point. What types of research have you found the most effective? I’d love to hear about it, and I imagine others will as well.
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