Monday, June 8, 2015

Research - love it or loath it

Love it or loath it research is key part of writing a book even if you know your subject. You need to check facts – that is important but only a small part of the joy of research for me.

I could do nothing but research – I love it. Now with the Internet, it is easier than ever to become lost moving from one click to the next - eventually finding yourself reading new and interesting facts that have moved a long way from where you started. So I have learned to restrict myself to minimum research before writing because, to be honest, the book may never be completed if I did it all before. I need just enough knowledge to write the first draft. This will be filled with lots of XXXX, which means more research is required. If I stopped to do it then and there I’d never finish the book.

But I love coming back to those points when I begin to rewrite - because I have found that doing the research at that point is when I find the layers that can make a story more interesting or thinking cakes – tasty.

In Under A Cornish Sky, I knew from the start that the garden would be important, but it was in choosing the name for the house, Boscawen that new layers were added. Boscawen means dwelling by an elder tree. I began to research elder trees and a whole host of wonderful folklore appeared, which then added plot twists and turns. The same happened with bluebells…

I didn’t plan these things - they arose from research, from looking into the small details and that is what I enjoy most, the unexpected. I find that research can lead to new books as it did with A Cornish Stranger. I found the old Cornish saying – save a stranger from the sea, he’ll turn your enemy – while doing research for A Cornish Affair.

At the moment, I’m writing and researching my next book, The Returning Tide, which has a dual timeline – current day and WW2. So much more research is required than in my previous books. But I’m trying to hold off doing too much before I finish the first draft so that the magic of research can help me twist and shape the novel like a cake with a surprising element in all the layers that somehow works together to satisfy and intrigue.

How do you feel about research if you are writer and if you are a reader how important is it to you? Do you notice it?


  1. Like you, I love to research - and learn so much in the process. Finding the 'unexpected' is always a bonus, and there have also been times when I've discovered eerie coincidences between something I've already included in my novel and some information I then discover by chance. It's almost as if my characters 'knew' that information before I did!

    1. Paula - I love that your characters knew before you did!! lx