On the importance of research…

Posted: June 2, 2015 in crime, crime fiction, crime thriller, fiction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

For me what can make or break a novel is the feeling that the author has a firm grasp on the underlying facts, its not necessary for them to impart every single fact they know to me, but the ones relevant to the story.

In crime this is particularly true (as with historical fiction, although i personally wouldn’t attempt to write historical fiction without getting a degree in the era of my choosing).

The way it works for me is that i get an idea, and then i think – hmmm I should look into that, then probably spend a few days looking into it, until I have a fairly rounded idea of the basics of it – in UNKINDNESS i came across plenty of ideas that needed to be researched, as I had a slight historical element to the story. You can get by like this for most things that you are merely touching on. i had to do a lot of research into instruments of torture, from various countries – the unpleasantness of looking at photos and really understanding the devices before i could write about them. youtube is also a great resource when it comes to research, as often a documentary is easier to go in than reading articles, although i tend to flood myself with information from various source – in this day and age there really is no excuse for not knowing you stuff.

Then there is the Police procedure of the crime novel, as usually thats an element that needs to be touched upon, you can blag it to a certain extent, but only after you have done a serious amount of research – I purchased a book on police procedure, written by a former police officer specifically for crime writers (link below) . I then read the book cover to cover – even after I had read it i felt like I needed a more tangible idea of what was going on – so i watched a lot of british police shows, it helped me really get my head around the structure of the departments and the hierarchy and where my characters fitted in. It takes a while for me to “get” things but once i do its in there.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crime-Writers-Police-Practice-Procedure/dp/0709086318/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_y

The other thing watching the shows did for me was make me realise how much i wanted to include in the actual story, I read a fair amount of crime novels too and sometimes I find I get bogged down in the intricacies of the police force, and some things I really didn’t need to know.

The thing about research is not just knowing what to include, its knowing as well what you don’t need in there.

I probably spend at least the same amount of time researching as i do writing.

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Comments
  1. Hi Katerina
    If I can help with you police procedures research in any way, just get in touch.
    Regards, Kevin

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