For more on researching for fiction, go to the main research page.
(UPDATED with new links!)
As I said in the first post of this series, there’s a lot of advice out there. I’ve just hit some highlights that have intrigued me over the years, but if you want to push further and see what other ideas exist, here are some articles and resources I’ve found online. I’ve also included a short bibliography of some books that at least mention researching for fiction. And in case anyone was curious, yes, I did mention Anne Lamott and Jesse Lee Kercheval a lot, as well as a few references to Paul Lucey. That’s because when my wife and I first moved overseas, I only had room in my luggage for a handful of books, and at the time I was wholly enthralled with Bird by Bird and Building Fiction, and Story Sense is just a terrific reference guide for plotting, so they got to tag along for the ride. The other books on the list below are equally fantastic, though (I own them all), and I would have quoted them as well if I’d been able to bring them with me.
Web articles about research:
- How I research stuff, by Dave Farmer
- Historical Fiction Writing and Research: How and Where to Research a Historical Novel, by Delphine Cull
- Blood at the Source: Research Tips for Mystery Writers, by Barbara Fister
- True Lies: Libraries, Research, and the Facts of Fiction, Barbara Fister
- How to Research Historical Fiction, by Rita Gerlach
- How to Write a Traditional Western Adventure Novel, by Laura Griffin
- Fiction Writing: Research is Just a Road Trip, by “Harry” (at Men with Pens)
- Historical Research for Fiction Writers, by Catherine Lundoff
- Research for Fiction Writers: Ensuring Accurate Details for Authenticity When Writing a Book, by Suzanne Pitner
Bibliographies and databases:
Here are a couple of links to bibliographies on research resources, both of them special collections related to science fiction and fantasy research:
- Science Fiction Research Bibliography: A Bibliography of Science Fiction Secondary Materials (at Holland Library, Washington State University)
- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection (at Cushing Library, Texas A&M University; also check out their searchable online database)
- Science Fiction Research Association (not really a database or collection so much as a vast resource)
And, because my own research that started all this was on the American Civil War, I thought I’d toss in a few of the sites I found invaluable during my own writing (there are thousands of Civil War sites online — these are just the few I stopped at, and they were plenty):
These are books I own. They discuss, at least in brief, some aspect of researching for fiction:
- Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction (I actually don’t remember any specific advice on research in this, but I’d be surprised if she didn’t touch on it at least a couple of times — this is an excellent and wide-reaching book)
- Jesse Lee Kercheval, Building Fiction
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
- Paul Lucey, Story Sense
- Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer
Also, check out some of the standard magazines and journals about writing. You might try Writer’s Digest or The Writer, but I do remember reading some terrific articles on research in The Writer’s Chronicle and Poets & Writers, and I strongly recommend both those publications.
Just when we thought we had things under control, that maybe since the aid was arriving we could let up on our contributions, a vicious 5.9 aftershock rocked Haiti again today. Which means we aren’t finished helping yet — not even close. So, once again, please visit my links page to find out how you can help.