Tag Archive - Research

The Challenges of Believability in Writing Science Fiction

Today’s guest post is by William R. Leibowitz.

 It’s not called “science” and it’s not called “fiction.” It’s called “science fiction,” and that means that if an author is going to successfully wade into those waters, it requires a balancing act.

Readers of science fiction are generally sophisticated. Reading science fiction isn’t easy reading. A reader needs to think and to concentrate. Science fiction places demands on a reader. That’s why it’s not the most popular genre—romance novels are. You don’t have to think or concentrate when you read a romance novel. But you do when you read science fiction. And science-fiction readers have real standards that they’ve developed by reading the great writers who developed the genre—and also by seeing countless good quality science-fiction movies and television programs.

So, when sitting down to write a work of science fiction, the writer has to rise to the standard. Bad quality science fiction is painfully obvious even to the casual reader. If a work of science fiction is to be believable and engrossing, the science in it must be plausible—and the science must be understandable to the reader. Continue Reading…

Researching Novels in an Age of Information Overload

Today’s guest post is by Beth Castrodale.

Given the wealth of information available online, there’s never been a better time to be a novelist seeking answers to questions like these: What physical and emotional tolls did life in the trenches take on World War I infantrymen? What is a typical workday like for a gravedigger? What new corset features were garment manufacturers touting during the Great Depression?

But, as I discovered while hunting down answers to these very questions, this abundance of information can make the research process feel overwhelming. Fortunately, over time, I’ve identified some strategies that have helped me address my particular research needs and, in some cases, discover unexpected insights or narrative possibilities. Here, I’ll share those strategies and their benefits.

Especially for historical novels, be aware of primary-source materials that are available online. When trying to understand the day-to-day experiences of people who took part in historic events, few resources are more helpful than the firsthand accounts offered in diaries, journals, and memoirs.

Although libraries, archives, and other brick-and-mortar establishments can be great sources of such accounts, more and more of these types of documents are available from thoughtfully curated online archives. (Unlike some other internet sources, these archives can be depended on for reliable, carefully vetted information.) Continue Reading…

Don’t “Write What You Know”—Write What You Long to Write

Today’s guest post is by author Rachel Amphlett:

If there’s one bit of writing advice that riles me, it’s the old adage “write what you know.”

It’s just wrong, especially when handed out to new writers.

Sure, writing what you know is all very well if you’re an ex-serving member of the military, or a cop, a secret agent, or even a cowboy—you have a wealth of exciting knowledge at your fingertips. But what if you can’t draw from an intriguing, exciting vocation? Continue Reading…