Writing a novel is hard. A lot harder than it looks to the outside world of people who’ve never tried to write.
There’s plotting, revising, rewriting, rereading, and everything in between. Not to mention making the time to get that first draft done in the first place.
One debate about the writing process I find myself thinking about is whether to research before writing the novel or after.
It may seem like the obvious choice to choose to research before writing but not in all cases. For example, if you have to create a whole new world from scratch then you may have to research before writing, but if you’re writing in today’s world then you may save time by writing the story first then coming back to see if further research in the novel is needed.
Here’s a few ways you should research before or after writing your story:
1. Can you picture your ending?
If you know exactly what’s going to happen in your story then you will be able to foresee some of your research. If you don’t spot anything that will prevent you from writing until you do research then you can put off your research till the end. If there are details, like the setting you need more info about, then you may want to research before. By knowing how your story ends you can better prepare yourself for planning to write.
2. Know Your World
So what if you don’t know how your story will end? What if you don’t even know what your story is but you just know a story is there somewhere? Should you wait to research or should you do all the research you can, just to get an idea?
I’m really pro planning when writing a novel but not everyone is the same. If you like to “go with the flow” when writing then my advice is to know the world you’re creating your story in. If it’s in today’s modern world then research could be put off to the end once you realize the story you’re creating. If it’s in a fantasy world or historic world, the first thing you would want to do is the research for that world and making sure you have all the information you need.
3. Know Your Characters
If you have a good sense of who your characters are before you write, then you should be able to hold off ‘character research’ because you can add more details in later.
If you’re not too familiar with your characters, take the time to research them firtst. Learn everything you need to know about them so when you outline your story ( if you’re into outlines) you’ll have all the information you need to work with them.
4. Know Your Setting
The same principle applies to the setting of your world. Sometimes not knowing the basics of your story can prevent you from writing it. If your setting is in a different world than our current reality, then every action your character makes in that world might be affected.
Research for setting is usually done if the story takes place in a different world then you’re familiar with or if it’s any topic in general that you’re unfamiliar with. For example, if you live in the United States, but want your story to take place in Cuba then you’ll need to do research on the life in Cuba.
The main point of these tips is to see what you know before you write your novel and to research anything that will prevent you ( or cause a stumbling block) from writing your novel.
I hope this help you,