Write What You Know & Know What’s Right
By: Kerri Nelson
One of the common bits of writing advice that I’ve heard through the years is to “write what you know”. So, if you write about law enforcement and the legal system (as I often do) it would certainly help to have experience with these areas. I have a degree in this field as well as over 15 years work experience.
But what if you don’t have experience or knowledge of a certain aspect that you want to include in your novel? What are you options for “making it right”?
Well, in my opinion, that’s really the best part of fiction. To a certain extent you can totally create your own world with your own rules. Of course, it helps to have some basic knowledge of your character’s job and/or the setting of your book. If you find yourself struggling to produce a realistic book, here are some research ideas for you.
1. Do online research.
Just be careful that you are using a reputable website. If you really want to get your facts straight, there can be a plethora of information online these days but it may or may not be accurate. Check and cross check.
2. Buy the book.
That’s right. Do a search on Amazon.com or visit your local bookstore and search for a reference book on the location or specialized job that you’re creating for your novel. Books are still the best source of information on just about everything.
3. Borrow the book.
My husband actually suggested that I visit the library to do research for my Regency era romance recently. I actually did a double take at his suggestion! How easy it is to forget about FREE resources out there!
4. Take a class.
This is my personal fave idea (although, it can become highly addictive). I’ve personally taken so many online classes that I couldn’t even give you a number. Only a small percentage of those classes have actually yielded the perfect result for my quest. However, I do teach several such classes myself (including one on adding legal and law enforcement elements to your novel) and I’ve been told by many class members that my experience shared has been invaluable. So, for this suggestion, I recommend checking out the bio or credentials of the instructor for the particular class you’re considering before you sign up.
5. Ask an expert.
Now, this one may be more difficult to come by and may require a little ingenuity on your part. But if you can find someone in the field that your researching (or someone who has visited the area you want to write about), it can be as simple as creating a custom interview for them to complete and return to you at their convenience. Or it can be as hands on as taking a patrol car ride along with the local law enforcement. If you do go this route, be sure to write them a personal thank you note and if your book is published an included acknowledgement will go a long way to gaining more help in the future!
Whatever method you choose for making your writing seem right, be sure to have fun. Don’t be afraid to bend the rules a little. After all, we are writing fiction and you should always strive to give your readers an escape from reality.
Good luck and happy research!
© Kerri Nelson 2010
Kerri Nelson has always been passionate about reading books but when she wrote her first poem in the second grade, she discovered her love of writing. At the age of sixteen, she became a columnist for her local newspaper as the high school correspondent for the weekly “Panther Tales” column. She won the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.After an education and career in the legal field, Kerri began to pen romantic suspense novels with a legal or law enforcement theme. She is a true southern belle and comes complete with her dashing southern gentleman husband and three adorable children. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her baking homemade goodies for her family, feeding her addiction to blogging online or designing custom made book video advertisements (novel trailers).Kerri is an active member of Romance Writers of America as well as numerous Chapters including Hearts Through History Romance Writers, Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.
Kerri is a multi-published author of romance in every genre from romantic suspense and paranormal to young adult and inspirational novels. In 2009, Kerri wrote and sold twelve books to multiple publishers using her Book Factory method. Her next paranormal romantic suspense Courting Demons will be released from Dorchester Publishing in 2011.
Kerri’s present book is Cross Check My Heart.
Read more about Kerri’s books at her website: www.kerrinelson.com
Come out and chat with Kerri at her blog: www.kerribookwriter.blogspot.com
Want to promote your work? Play, learn and compete with other authors in the biz? Visit Kerri’s industry blog here: www.thebookboost.blogspot.com
For the latest news and updates from Kerri, follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/kerribookwriter