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Chapter 6: Chapters 2, 3 and Beyond: Writing the Draft

Research? What and When?

Melissa Ford Lucken

Novel writers should do research throughout the writing process.

Here are a few key moments when research can be beneficial:

Pre-Writing and Planning

Research can be valuable before you even begin writing your novel. Depending on the genre and setting of your story, research can help you gather information about historical periods, locations, cultures, or specific topics that will be relevant to your plot or characters. This initial research can provide you with a foundation of knowledge to draw upon during the writing process.


If you’re creating a fictional world or a setting that differs from our reality, research can help you build a rich and immersive backdrop. Whether it’s developing the rules of magic, the social structure of a civilization, or the geography of an imaginary realm, research can inspire and inform your world-building choices, making them more believable and coherent.

Character Development

Research can contribute to the development of your characters. If your protagonist has a specific profession or expertise, delve into that field to understand the details and challenges they would face. Explore the backgrounds, interests, or cultural influences of your characters to ensure their motivations, actions, and dialogue are authentic and well-informed.

Plot and Story Elements

Research can support the plot and enhance story elements. If your novel includes historical events, scientific concepts, legal processes, or technical details, accurate research will lend credibility and depth to your narrative. It’s important to ensure that the information you present is accurate and consistent, even if you take creative liberties with certain aspects.

Writing Authenticity

Research can assist in portraying specific experiences, cultures, or perspectives authentically. This is particularly important when writing about diverse characters or exploring sensitive topics. By conducting thorough research and seeking diverse perspectives, you can avoid stereotypes, cultural misrepresentations, or inadvertent biases in your writing.

Fact-Checking and Editing

Research plays a critical role during the editing and fact-checking stages. Review your manuscript for inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or gaps in information, and conduct further research as needed to address any issues. This ensures that your novel is as accurate and reliable as possible.

Remember, while research is crucial, it’s also essential to strike a balance. Avoid getting overwhelmed by excessive research that hampers your writing progress. Use research as a tool to enhance your storytelling, deepen your understanding of the subject matter, and create a well-rounded and immersive reading experience for your audience.


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Novel Writer's Handbook by Melissa Ford Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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