Doing research on topics related to my writing projects has long been an obsession of mine, especially when I was in my Salem witch trial phase. (Thank you very much THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND).
As I write my contemporary middle grade project, I’m making a list of the things I need to research and how best to get the information. I’ve emailed a friend’s husband who works for the FBI to get information on kidnappings, federal/state jurisdiction issues, and how family involvement varies from case to case. During last summer’s annual family vacation to Maine, I convinced my husband to stop at the Hope General Store where my main character’s best friend hangs out. And, much to my surprise, a few recent news stories have had relevance to my plot, giving me some insights on how real people react to similar situations that my characters are experiencing.
What more should I do to give my contemporary middle grade project a dose of reality?
During the 2012 Northern Ohio SCBWI chapter’s annual conference, agent Tina Wexler talked about knowing when a manuscript was ready to query. She gave this piece of advice that stuck with me:
Read at least two non-fiction books related to a subject in your novel.
So now I’m making a list of non-fiction books that could help me enhance aspects of my middle grade novel. The list includes memoirs on anxiety disorders, how to investigate cold cases, and how to run a bed and breakfast. According to my main character’s grandma, if you read 62 books on a topic in two years, you’re an expert on the subject.
I don’t need to be an expert. I need to learn just enough that I’m not faking my way through my fiction.What sort of research do you do for your fiction projects? Have you tried reading non-fiction titles related to topics in your WIP?