Research and Fiction

As most of you know, I’ve decided to go down to my Farmer’s Market every week to sign and sell books. I’ve been having lots of fun and just this last Saturday brought a few budding writers who had questions about the self-publishing world. A message to those writers if you’re lurking in the shadows: If you have any questions whatsoever, don’t hesitate to contact me, okay?

Research

A fraction of my research material. Not shown: books I borrowed from libraries and webpages.

Last Saturday also brought along a reader who confessed she preferred to read non-fiction. I don’t see anything wrong with that; non-fiction books are enlightening and if you’re not reading a memoir, chances are you’re learning something or broadening your horizons. I, myself, have read plenty of non-fiction books. But then this reader decided to elaborate upon she only reads non-fiction, and that reason is because she appreciates all the research that the author of non-fiction books do. I told her that I do plenty of research for my books, but she seemed to ignore it and at least gave me a point for imagination.

The comment struck a chord with me. How could this person believe that only non-fiction authors do research? Because guess what? I’m looking at my dad’s collection of non-fiction books and I can tell you that not one of those authors did any research. A few are memoirs — I hope those people didn’t have to research their own lives — and the rest are self-help written by experts, i.e. doctors, weight loss gurus, and people who’ve worked in the industry for many a year. And as for my collection of non-fiction books? I can only think of one book that was written with the help of extensive research.

the-alchemyst-cover

I love this series SO MUCH.

Books in my fiction collection that have had extensive research? Off the top of my head I can think of two authors: Dan Brown and Michael Scott.

Though I knew an insane amount of mythological facts (I wanted to be a mythologist at one point) I still went back and did deeper research on creatures that I already had a solid foundation of knowledge on. One of the reasons why my merfolk have elongated ears when they’re on land is because I did deeper research and discovered that in one book (might’ve been a Norse book…) it stated that merfolk and elves were distant cousins. That’s also why my elves call merfolk their water cousins.

There is a ton of research, if not more research, that’s poured into a fiction book. Would The DaVinci Code have been the same if Dan Brown hadn’t done his research? Do authors who write historical fiction just “imagine” everything up without an ounce of research? No because that would be stupid. We as fiction authors might not have a bibliography section that lists all of the resources we used to reference to create the book, but trust me when I say that nearly every fiction book has at least a few minutes of research poured into it. Fiction writers then take all of that research and weave it into a story to make it seem plausible. How many novels have taken place in a foreign country? How many of those authors have actually been there?

It’s the author’s job to take their research and make it seem nonexistent; that’s the beauty of fiction. So, dear readers, next time you hear someone saying that non-fiction authors are the only ones who do research, you can tell them nay-nay and then throw the hardback edition of Angels and Demons at their face.

Dan Brown books

On second thought, throw both of these books at their face.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *