I had a few choices for today’s post, but decided to go with Research. I suppose the days when you had to go to the library and check-out a big pile of books to do your research are well and truly over. Sure, you can still do this, but there are easier ways.

Pile of old books.

Pile of old books. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might have guessed by now that I write crime fiction. A mixture of police procedurals and thrillers. Stories about people in extraordinary situations and how they react.

One of the most entertaining areas I class as research is people watching. Observing those around us to make our characters more rounded and more likely to leap off the page into your reader’s imagination.

Reading is also good research.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

King is right about so many things and if you write in a particular genre then reading in that area will help you polish those tools. I read as many crime novels as I can. I enjoy watching crime drama on television and these are all part of my research. Any excuse to sit and watch TV!

Following my posts on Blood Analysis, DNA, Fingerprints and Marks and Impressions, you might have guessed that I enrolled in a three-month Forensics Course to better understand how the Crime Scene’s created, examined and how the evidence gathered.

Maybe a little extreme to study a course, but it definitely served its purpose. I feel I understand the process more so hopefully my characters understand it more as well.

The final piece of research I use is the wonderful world of blogging.

Yes, you.

I’ve found Crime and police blogs, which have helped bring more detail to their role and useful tips and insights. All the little details that bring realism to the story.

How much research do you do for your novels?



This is my R post for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. A list of all my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts are to be found here.

More shots of Runswick Bay and Robin Hood’s Bay on the East Coast of England and a Rainbow from last week.

Last Thursday I saw this Rainbow on my way to work.

Last Thursday I saw this Rainbow on my way to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the pot of gold at the end of it. 😦

Another shot of Robin Hood's Bay. Very steep down to the waterfront.

Another shot of Robin Hood’s Bay. Very steep down to the waterfront!

One more of Runswick Bay. If you're ever in the Whitby neck of the woods, check this place out!

One more of Runswick Bay. If you’re ever in the Whitby neck of the woods, check this place out!

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
This entry was posted in A to Z Blogging Challenge, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Research

  1. Nagzilla says:

    I love doing research, for everything! It’s actually one of the greatest skills I honed in grad school. Whether it’s doing donor research (for my job) or research for my book, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Excellent. I love so much enthusiasm for research. I need to stop when I have enough for the story, but I have a tendency to carry on reading and searching for more. 🙂

  2. Noelle says:

    As a just-finished-my-first-murder-mystery author, research is big on my list. I spend time in Maine each summer to research various places and gather background information. I get to meet some remarkable people and after a life doing scientific research, the process is easy and familiar. Love your cat photos – I’m definitely a cat lover. We had five at one time, but time has reduced us to one. Looking forward to more!

    • Pete Denton says:

      We took in a stray cat once and she had four kitten so we had six for a few months. The house had never been so full. Glad when we found then all new homes even though it did seem a little empty for a while.

      I spent a few hours researching a village about thirty miles from where I live to include in a book. It was good wandering around the backstreets trying to see whether my character could get from A to B.

      Good luck with the book 🙂

  3. Joyce says:

    Beautiful photos! I totally agree with reading in the genre that one writes. My daughter can never understand why I’m always reading kidlit, since I’m an adult.

  4. Love your pictures. One of my writing groups has guests in a few times a year who speak in their area of expertise like law enforcement, legal issues, court procedures and self defense. It’s a great way to gleam some research and ask some questions.

  5. cindydwyer says:

    Fabulous photos! I’m not much into doing major research – I prefer to write what I know. But I’ve done simple things like find floors plans to help make my house descriptions more realistic.

    I do love reading crimes novels – local police as well as FBI/CIA thrillers. In those cases, accurate research is crucial to the realism of the story.

  6. Cynthia says:

    Nice images- I especially like how the rainbow stands out in the backdrop of buildings.

    I did a lot of research for the last WIP I’d written, probably more than what was necessary.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Cynthia. I’ve read a number of authors who admit to doing more research than necessary because they enjoyed delving into the detail. I suppose it’s a fine line between enough for the story and wanting to find more for your own interest.

  7. katemsparkes says:

    I agree that reading within your genre is important, but I think we benefit from other influences as well. I say read your genre in-depth, and everything else in great breadth. 🙂

    As for research, some people think that writing Fantasy means you don’t need to bother, but I’ve found that completely untrue. Though I make up my own rules for magic and I’ve made my creatures my own, I still have to research things about horses (though mine are rather unusual, I still need to keep in mind the limits of how far they can travel in a day, how often they need to eat, etc.), how long it would take for various wounds to kill a person, how political issues have played out in our own world… even when you build a world from the ground up, there’s still a lot to learn!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good point, there are still rules to follow like you say about the horses. Using our own world as a guide makes it easier for people to buy into your created worlds. Happy writing 🙂

  8. jadereyner says:

    I think research is really important. Although my books don’t necessarily need the accuracy of research that yours do, I still have areas where I have needed to quote facts and have contacted people that I know to make sure that I have those facts straight. I have also used the good old internet and relevant books too. My favourite research source is definitely people in the know, but they’re not always easy to track down! I thinking reading in your genre is definitely of benefit and I try to make sure that I read all the bestsellers and popular books so that I know what is selling. Time will tell whether I’ve got it right or not!! Another great post – love the piccies, nice to see some sun here in the UK – hooray!!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good idea to read the best-sellers to see what the readers are enjoying to know whether you fit into that scene.

      I’ve found blogging a good way to find people in the know. Sun is always welcome 🙂

  9. i write non-fiction – for which the research needed is quite different from a novel, but it’s the same issue in terms of having to get the material. And there is sometimes no substitute for visiting the place you’re writing about, both for fiction and for non-fiction.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Matthew. I agree about visiting a place to get a feel for it and more of an understanding of what makes it tick. You’re more likely to get that point across to your readers.

  10. Sometimes I feel like my four years studying history were just preparation for writing my novels, since my degree hasn’t gotten me into a career yet! I write fantasy, so I do a lot of historical research. Fortunately I don’t have to go too much out of my way, since I read nonfiction and listen to podcasts for fun, anyway.

  11. I tend to do a lot of research for the stories I write, but I’ve learned to be careful with how much detail to put in the actual piece. Too much can bore a reader or limit my imagination for story direction. Now, I do just enough to give me a launch point and make it believable. 🙂

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good point. We don’t want to put too much in to spoil the flow of the story. Knowing the detail to make it believable and leaving some out is a good balance to find.

  12. Elaine says:

    I research ’til my eyes bleed. I need to know 90% more detail than ever makes it into my work.
    I saw photographs of Filey recently – it was a hauntingly beautiful place.

  13. Great topic. I am writing a historical fiction that has required a lot of research! Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Juliet. I think it would take me about twenty years to write a piece of historical fiction. It’s taken me long enough to write a crime novel 🙂

      Enjoy the rest of the A to Z Challenge. 🙂

  14. ioniamartin says:

    Great photos. I always feel I am more inspired to write after a day at the beach. Does that happen to you as well?

  15. ewgibson says:

    Even though I write fantasy, I do research. Taking a 3 month forensics is not extreme. I would do the same thing. 🙂 Great post and pics.

  16. M_M_Pollard says:

    Pete, I have read several of your posts for the A to Z challenge — all having super info. I adore your pictures — like a tour of England. Thank you for sharing. MM

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  18. shell flower says:

    I love how research includes reading lots of books and watching film and TV from our genres. I’ve never gone so far as take a 3 month course on anything, but I write a lot of YA because I’m surrounded by teenagers.

  19. jmmcdowell says:

    You took a forensics course? That is serious research! I have it somewhat easier in that my main characters tend to be archaeologists, and that’s what I do for a living. But other elements need research, and I’ll look for sources on the web or in the library to make sure I don’t make any serious blunders.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I saw the course and had some vouchers I could use to pay for it so it seemed a logical course of action. And very enlightening 🙂

      They say write what you know so writing about archaeology seems a perfect fit for you and much more interesting than someone who sits behind a desk everyday 🙂

  20. Subtlekate says:

    I don’t think doing a course is extreme at all. You’re serious and you want to get it right. Fantastic. Hemingway said writing is like an iceburg. You only see the top 10% but you need to know the bottom 90%

  21. EllaDee says:

    I agree, I think in your line of writing, it was a brilliant idea. even to write a blog post I dod a ceratin amount of research. There’s no excuse not to, it’s at your fingertips 🙂 I love the pic of Runswick Bay with it’s quaint townscape.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks. Runswick bay is a great little place. Tucked in the middle of nowhere and the houses all hanging off the rocks almost. A very tranquil place to visit. 🙂

  22. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I try to visit every place I write about in my books. 🙂 And I do research as needed. But the hard part is not imparting all the stuff I’ve learned by vomiting it on the page. I’m so eager to share my new knowledge. It takes me a while to CIA the info to the reader.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Good idea to visit everywhere you write about. I like to get a feel for a place to write about it though for my other WIP I made the place up. I can see it clearly in my mind down to which way to walk to the local shops!

      I agree that drip feeding the bits of information can be difficult when you want to purge it all onto screen. Fun though 🙂

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