How Important Is Research When You Write A Novel?

ResearchResearch is one of those things that I’ve heard authors mentioning and I’ve always assumed that it’s this important step of the process. But now I’m involved in the process it makes me feel guilty that I haven’t researched anything.

In the two books that I’ve written so far I’ve not completed any additional research on top of the natural reserves of experience and memory that I’m fortunate enough to hold. The rest comes from… sshhh… imagination. But is that more a symptom of the genre that I write in or will my books lack any sort of hook to reality.


I write Humour and Romantic Comedy. These genres are more about people and the interactions between them rather than details about how many trees line the train route between Basingstoke and Derby. So maybe this is not so important for me.

If I were into Sci-Fi or Crime Thrillers then I’d probably have to learn a lot more about space and stuff for the former, and maybe crime scene protocol for the latter. It would make sense to gen up on the stuff before I plunged in, or at least make sure in the second draft that the story was realistic.

Perhaps I’m fortunate that my kind of stories are a little bit more suspended from reality and this enables me to just make it up as I go along.

It Sounds Like Fun

The problem is I think I’d quite like to interview some people for a book, go to a place that I’m going to write about, or find out some meat on a technical subject matter. It all sounds like the sort of stuff that writers should do and it sounds like fun. Also, it’s tax deductible as a writer and this gives an additional incentive.

Next Series

I’ve already decided that I’m going to be writing a series next year once the two books I’m currently working on are topping the charts. I know the bones of what it’s going to be about, more on this will follow nearer the time, and I definitely can see some scope for some research, and fun research at that.

It’s all about a strip club that shows live football and sells every kind of beer ever invented. It’s one man’s journey through the dark side of cheese and wine parties. It follows the problems that can occur when you stay in bed for sixteen hours a day.

Naaaaaa, not really, but it will be good.

Have any of you writers had to dive in to some research and if so, how’s it been? Did you like it, or was it a chore?

10 responses to “How Important Is Research When You Write A Novel?

  1. Story I am working on the MC’s father and one of the other characters are Marines, which I know very little about. I have been enjoying the research on that. Make sure I get it right is important to the story.

  2. I’m doing some light research on Venice for a history-based fantasy. Of course, it’s fantasy, so if I botch something no one can tell me I’m wrong. But the old, trite saying is often true – truth is stranger than fiction. While doing my research I have stumbled upon some truly weird truths. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile for me.

  3. Research can be fun or it can be a chore. It all depends on the subject matter and it’s appeal to me, but I definitely have to do both. Of course, I’d rather say I know all these things so why should I look them up… okay, so a guy can fantasize, right?

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