*originally published in the Greenhouse on the Wild Rose Press Website
Researching Your Manuscript By Roni Adams
From the time, the first writer put chisel to stone and began to write, writers have had to do research. Even the most imaginative of fiction writers has to do some type of research. In the pre- internet days, research was a long, tedious process. I can picture authors hunched over books at the library and studying articles about different parts of the world. I remember being awed by an article I once read from an author who had traveled to Scotland to do hands-on research. I thought that was the coolest thing. But of course only a few decades ago, how else could you completely "get" the feeling for what you are writing about.
Research on the internet
Nowadays of course, the World Wide Web takes us anywhere we want to go. You need research on Scotland, you can Google the country and find whatever you need. You can find pictures, and even small videos. No need to spend thousands of dollars to fly there.
Research with people
I've spent my fair share of time surfing the internet for research purposes, but one of my best research journeys ended not only in the information I sought but also in some lifetime friendships. I was writing a series of books set in Texas. In the second book in the series, I wanted the heroine to be caught in a storm and have to seek shelter (hey I'm a romance writer-it's cliché, but it's what we do). I live in Upstate NY. You want storms? We got snowstorms, icestorms and combinations of the two. But this book is in Texas and I knew nothing about the weather other than it's hot and dry. So I started searching the web for Texas weather information. But what I found wasn't enough. I needed a first-hand account of storms. Personal stories. The kind you only get from, well folks who live there. But I knew no one in Texas.
Then I stumbled into the RWA's site and that led me to the State of Texas. Pure luck led me to click on San Antonio Romance Authors (www.sararwa.net). I looked through their site and found a link to a woman in charge of membership. I figured I shouldn't bug the President, but the membership coordinator seemed tame enough. I sent her a note and said that I was a writer in NY who needed some first-hand Texas weather info and did she know of anyone in her chapter willing to email me some info. Her response was so warm and so sweet, that we began emailing Soon she told me that I should just become a long-distance member of SARA. I remember thinking at the time, "Why would I do that?" and "wouldn't the members think it weird to have this NY writer in their chapter?"
Friends are forever
I couldn't have been more wrong. I signed up and joined the online SARA loop. To this day I am so thankful I did. This connection has been the source not only of tremendous amounts of research, but also friendships I never would have made otherwise. Seven years later, I'm still the only NY member of the San Antonio Romance Authors, but you'd never know I don't belong.
My point in sharing this story is to tell you that research can come in many forms. It's easy to Google something and find tons of impersonal information. But the next time you need to know something, don't be afraid to reach out to another chapter in another part of the country or even overseas. You may be surprised to find you have friends out there, who are more than happy to answer your questions and ask you some of their own.
Roni is a contemporary romance author published with The Wild Rose Press. You can find information on her books and short stories by visiting her web site (http://www.roniadams.com/6.html) or check out www.thewildrosepress.com where you can find all of her titles.