Writers like to know things. It’s just part of who we are. We want to understand how things (and people) work. We watch, and we study, and we remain fascinated with the world around us. Our curiosity is unmatched in every other profession.
And it’s good that we love learning about the things around us, because it comes into play in our writing. You see, writers create whole worlds with lots of different people, and we have to write them realistically. However, sometimes we don’t have enough experience with certain things to know what we’re talking about. Writers have to play the part of doctors, lawyers, warriors, actors, engineers, and so much more. But we’re none of those things, so how do we know how to write them? A lot of people turn to the internet for help, and that can be an awesome tool, but I know all too well how easily false information can be uploaded by other people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
My favorite method of researching for books is through people. I may not be a doctor or an engineer, but other people are. And, more often than not, they’re happy to help me out by passing on the knowledge they have gained in their areas of expertise. Since these are people that have experience (and sometimes training), their information is reliable and accurate. Also, it’s really fun to talk to an actual person and ask them all the questions you need.
I ask my cousin, who is a nurse, my questions about illnesses and wounds that I want to inflict on my characters. With her help, I can figure out how much blood someone can lose and still live, and how long a concussion takes to heal, and then I can apply these things to my characters so that one of them hasn’t lost 90% of their blood and is still running around the story in perfect health. My uncle is a retired police officer and a current prison guard. A man from my church is also a retired police officer, and now works as a lawyer. Another cousin of mine is a teacher.
There are so many people around you that can help you out with the information that you need for writing: relatives, acquaintances, friends, classmates, and teachers are all people that you can ask about their experiences and professions. Just make sure that they’re okay with your questions, and that they know that you’re doing research for your book.
Other than that, have fun talking to people and learning all kinds of interesting things!
Who do you go to for questions on certain subjects? Any advice for how to research using people? Anything else to add? Your turn!