Guest Post,  Inspirational Books,  Reading,  Research,  The Writing Life

Research: A Nightmare or a Dream? by Carole Brown

Today, author Carole Brown gives readers insight into the research writers must go through to write about a subject or location new to them. Welcome, Carole!

Writing is hard work. Or so they say.

For one thing, everything a writer pens down should have validity. It should be as true as we can make it, as real as possible. Scenes, places, descriptions, even mentions, need to be factual. That means work. Why does it have to be such a task, you ask?

Because readers demand it. The writing industry insists on it. Involved in finding the truth is research.

Now, I’ll admit, there are some–shall we say?–unusual writers who declare they love research. They get so absorbed in it, they forget the time and whittle away hours in reading and storing the knowledge that keeps coming. They are so entranced by what they learn, eventually, they’ve downloaded/written/typed/saved thick notebooks full or multiple files of information. Much more than they need for the particular reason they even began the search.

Which of course, means:

  • too much material and
  • Ÿtoo much time away from the actual writing.

That’s the con side of research.

 The Pro:

 Let me give you an example:

For one book I wrote, the setting was in Montana. Ooooo! I knew right away, since I’d never been there at the time nor did I know much about the state, I would have to dig deep to get the feel of the area.

  • Where would be the best location according to what I needed in the book?
  • What was the terrain like? Hilly? Mountainous?
  • What was the rock like?
  • Do they have many lakes?
  • What about the shrubbery? What type do they have? What type of trees?
  • Are there areas where echoes could be heard?

You have to know all that to write one book?

I did because the setting was vital to the book’s plot. It factored in big time. Several scenes had to have these questions answered, and more.

Let me give you a short example from the book:

Pushing her way past the offending branches that brushed against her, she fought back at the limbs that teased and whipped at her flesh. The spidery shrubbery stretched out limber fingers to clutch at her clothing and skin. She burst through the last bit of greenery and leaned over the edge of the cliff to stare at the patches of trail she’d just climbed, her fingers digging into the rock.

Now how could I have written that without some sort of impression of the area?

Other areas I researched to write this particular book:

  • Animals: what kind inhabit the state? What kind are protected? What kind are endangered?
  • Snakes? Which ones inhabit the area I chose, and do they live on mountains? If not, how could they be transported there, and how hard would it be to do so?
  • Methods of killing (it is a suspense!)
  • How to make arrows
  • Names, and their meanings, not only for characters, but for houses and towns
  • Native American tribes, particularly the Blackfoot
  • ŸPsychopaths. How do they behave? What causes them to act the way they do? Where does it begin in their lives? Why?

And probably more.

Research can be a nightmare or a dream come true. Just depends on your outlook.

Happy Reading!

From Carole’s post, do you think she loves research? What happens when you spot mistakes in a book? Does it make you want to stop reading, or do you shrug it off?

About Carole’s Novel:

How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance and was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest. Release date is September, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, an ACFW approved publisher. Look for it on Amazon or request it at your favorite book store or library!


About Carole:

Carole Brown’s debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, was a semi-carole180finalist in the Genesis contest. Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled across the country. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her at:

Personal blog:




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As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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  • Tamera Kraft

    Thanks for the post, Carole. I’m one of those who can get lost in research. I love it, and I can find myself researching too much. But I can get away with it because I write historicals and they need more research than any other genre. But most people would be surprised at the research needed for every genre. I can’t wait to read your book, Carole. I’m going to go buy it now.

    • Sandra Ardoin

      Tamera, I always hated the idea of research, but like you, I write historicals. I think it makes the research easier in some ways, because I love history. However, it can be frustrating when you have to be so careful about word choice. A good many terms and words we use today were not used then or not used in the context they are today. Thanks for your comment!

  • davalynnspencer

    It seems like there could be another book lurking in the research writer’s do, so eyes are always open. I love Montana – spent many summers there. This sounds like a great read.

    • Sandra Ardoin

      Donna, I’ve read a number of historicals that include a few phrases not in use during the time in which the book is set. I don’t stop reading if I like the story, but it does interrupt the flow and remains at the back of my mind.

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