Questions tagged [research]

Questions about how to conduct research, and how to incorporate your research into your writing.

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58
votes
17answers
13k views

Is Wikipedia Trustworthy?

So in elementary school, I was told not to use Wikipedia too much because you can't trust what they write. So then for all the projects, I used the Canadian Encyclopedia, but then now, I really would ...
54
votes
13answers
10k views

How to write a character that knows a lot about explosives?

I'm writing a story where the main character makes and detonates bombs. The character could be considered a terrorist. I want to portray the character as an expert, but I don't know a way to obtain ...
33
votes
5answers
4k views

How does a writer go about consulting experts?

I'm writing a story that has a medical condition as a central plot point, and now I have questions to ask a doctor. The problem is, I don't know one. I could make up the details, but I feel like the ...
28
votes
13answers
7k views

How to tell readers that I know my story is factually incorrect?

Sometimes, it so happens that I do some research for a story and find that a major plot point could never work in real life. At this stage, I can either continue with my impossible (for a non-fantasy, ...
23
votes
10answers
11k views

What can I do to make my writing fit the 1950s?

I'm working on a project (for a game) that needs to have a strongly 1950s feel. I, however, was born in the 1980s, so my writing has plenty of things that would sound out of place in the 1950s. For ...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

Is it okay to majorly distort historical facts while writing a fiction story?

Suppose A is a famous historical character with a known history of emotional attachment with a particular set of people. If I would want to write a fictional story about character A that might involve ...
18
votes
9answers
8k views

Writing a character who is an expert in something that I can't know

I'm writing a story where the main character comes back from the dead. The character is fully lucid, knowledgeable and articulate about what has happened. I want to depict the character as an expert, ...
17
votes
7answers
4k views

Character is an expert on something I'm not

My OC Edward, who I thought of quite a while ago but haven't done anything with, is a professional cyber spy and hacker. He's employed by an organization (in the future, of course) that is basically ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you verify information?

This is a problem I usually come across with my stories. I often worry about whether the plotlines I introduce are realistic or not, and it's usually something that can't be solved with a simple ...
17
votes
4answers
446 views

How to research sex for writing?

I'm not writing erotica - I'm writing fantasy and sci-fi. But sometimes my characters make love, sometimes in ways I cannot be familiar with. In one story, it's two guys (I'm a girl). In another story,...
15
votes
2answers
8k views

Citing parts of a thesis or dissertation using IEEE referencing

I've found myself extensively referencing parts of theses and dissertations for my own research paper. The IEEE editorial style manual suggests that they should be referenced in the following form: ...
14
votes
3answers
73k views

Difference b/w Abstract and Introduction writing for a research paper

I was slightly confused with differentiating Abstract and Introduction writing for a research paper. What is the difference between these sections? They seem to be similar.
13
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7answers
2k views

Should you read your own genre?

In terms of novel writing, I tend to avoid my own genre, at least for the most part. Some of the reasons why: Genre Blindness / Genre Trap: Too much reading of your own genre blinds you to the ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

What is a good methodology for researching a historical novel?

I'm having difficulty with the research aspect of my historical novel. This question was originally going to be "how much research should one do to write a historical novel?" to which, answering my ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Researching Future Technology for a Science Fiction Novel

Because I enjoy reading Science Fiction, I'm thinking of writing a Sci-Fi novel myself. I'm interested in 'hard' (related to the engineering sciences) science fiction with a military bent (think The ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Interviewing a person for a character

So I'm building a character who works in a particular field of science and I found an e-mail for a scientist on the internet and emailed him. I described how I'm writing a sci-fi story and gave him ...
10
votes
5answers
5k views

Pregnancy in writing - A bit difficult

In one of my stories, I have a chapter that is all about a woman's first pregnancy and her experience. It is a fictional woman but still, because my writing tends to be on the scientific side of ...
10
votes
7answers
304 views

How deeply should I study the background of a community before writing about it?

By "background", I mean the dialects, habits and culture of the community. Also, I wonder if it is even possible to write about a community without being a part of it? I am only asking this in terms ...
10
votes
2answers
108 views

Researching a hospital setting

I want to use a hospital (specifically, Walter Reed in Bethesda) as a setting. How best do authors research the daily routine? Is there someone I can reach out to such as a public relations person or ...
10
votes
3answers
860 views

How to share research and character notes between multiple works in Scrivener?

My previous workflow was "write in LaTeX, using emacs", with research and character notes kept in plain-text files, using symlinks between multiple works set in the same fictional world. This allowed ...
9
votes
3answers
304 views

How to write about what you don't know?

I am a strong believer in writing what you know. Everything I write is at least partially based on something that I have experienced. My problem is that for plot reasons, I need one of my characters ...
9
votes
6answers
283 views

How can I effectively research for a high-fantasy setting?

When you write in a modern day setting, you research the culture, climate, location and history of that setting. You can do the same for historical fiction or low-fantasy settings based on real places....
9
votes
2answers
189 views

When writing in a school context without ever having been to school, how do I make sure that my story is accurate within school context?

I read a lot of YA fiction, a lot of which happens to take place in schools. Recently, an idea jumped into my head for a YA-ish story and told me that it was going to take place in a school. The idea ...
8
votes
5answers
779 views

Does dialogue need to be accurate to the setting?

I am currently writing a story that is set in pre-WWI USA/America. I do not mind conducting research about the locations and the time. I do want to understand what experiences my characters will have ...
8
votes
4answers
585 views

Incorporating research and background: How much is too much?

The amount of research I'm doing for my novel is staggering. To the point where my spouse says I need to write a companion book (or a blog) just talking about the research! Sometimes I research for ...
8
votes
3answers
80 views

How to document and cite website downtime properly?

I couldn't find anything on this one, so maybe someone has a good idea on what would be considered good practice in a scholarly context. Background For a semester project, I have to observe an ...
8
votes
2answers
705 views

How to write about an emotion you never experienced?

Is it possible for a writer to describe realistically a never felt emotion? For example I have never experienced faith, or being truly in love. I've never physically hurt anyone and have no idea of ...
8
votes
8answers
324 views

Can a person get bogged down by science fiction research?

I discovered my interest in writing a few years ago. I was extremely stressed out from work, and so out of the blue, I sat down to write science fiction every night for a week. Although I have been ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Research about science fiction readers?

Has research been done (at any level) that gives demographic and other statistical information about the readers of science fiction? I'm curious about age, gender, educational level, reading interests,...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Steven Johnson's DevonThink writing workflow: is creating & accumulating 50-500 word snippets worth the effort?

Steven Berlin Johnson talks in this much cited article about his research workflow using DevonThink. In short, he advocates for creating 50-500 word focused text snippets from your research readings ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How to write about Autism and Intellectual Disability?

In a novel I'm writing, I have a minor character who is either autistic, or has an intellectual disability. (I know they're different. But like I said, he's a minor character, so I haven't really ...
7
votes
4answers
353 views

Learning about hand-to-hand combat?

I am writing heroic fantasy. Plot demands hand-to-hand combat, about which I know little. What is the best/quickest way to learn enough about pre-firearms defense to write convincingly about it?
7
votes
4answers
1k views

How to write realistic injury scenes?

I'm currently writing an apocalypse themed story. As with the territory, death and/or injuries happen. I'm wondering how other writers write these scenes realistically as far as science, medicine, ...
7
votes
4answers
105 views

What is the difference between “accurate” information in a document and “believable” information?

As part of some research I am doing on measuring documentation quality, I have come across the terms "accurate" and "believable" as two separate dimensions of information quality. But the differences ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

In Science Fiction, how does one do research, but write at the same time?

I have posted twice before to writers.stackexchange and I compliment the people who answered me. As a result, I am going to start writing seriously without over reliance on craft books, even if I ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How to convert DOI to citation information

The DOI website will redirect to the article webpage on the journal official website. Is there is a public automated system to translate DOI to citation information? This can be beneficial for ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How to do research to write characters from a different culture?

Let's say I'm French and I'd like to write a Korean character. How can I build their personality traits, values, etc. in a realist way? I'm afraid to end up with a character only superficially ...
7
votes
1answer
135 views

Are there online research resources that cater to writers?

I tend to run into a bunch of domain-specific questions when I'm writing, such as: What happens to a jet flying at low altitude, at super-sonic speeds, when its cockpit gets breached? What's the ...
7
votes
1answer
245 views

Researching sensitive subjects

How do you research subjects for a novel that might be sensitive? Both cultural and jurisdictional. Example: I usually try to "research" the setting and characters for my texts from real life. When I ...
6
votes
6answers
664 views

How should I have my male character express strong feelings?

I am a woman, and I wrote a book out of the perspective of a guy. His best friend tells him she wants to kill herself. So he writes her a diary (with her in mind as the audience) about everything they ...
6
votes
3answers
622 views

Troubles with unfamiliar locations and settings based in the real world

I have a question: is it hard to write about a foreign country/place? I know that Dostoevsky was Russian, his themes and settings were inspired or entirely based by Russia/the Russian culture. But I ...
6
votes
3answers
325 views

Should I write a companion book/blog?

As a spinoff to this question: Incorporating research and background: How much is too much? I'm writing a middle-grade fantasy novel with a historical fiction component based in Ancient Egypt. I'm ...
6
votes
2answers
318 views

Writing a PhD thesis. Question about (an informal) introduction

I am preparing scientific thesis for the degree of PhD. It is a mathematical thesis. It is usually very difficult to tell your colleagues and friends what are the things you exactly work on with ...
6
votes
4answers
148 views

Finding out about other countries' military day-to-day

Where does one go to find out about the day-to-day of military life? In countries other than my own? I don't mean combat - I mean the boring routine. Basic training. What kind of food is served in the ...
6
votes
1answer
245 views

How to do literature review

We often hear that literature review (LR) is not mere summarizing the writings of other, rather it is scrutinizing finding the material relevant to one's own research and the gaps to be filled. Can ...
5
votes
5answers
202 views

Consulting experts - why should they talk to someone who isn't a published writer yet?

Whatever subject I am researching for my story, the common recommendation is "talk to the relevant professionals". If I need medical information, talk to a doctor. If I need information about the ...
5
votes
3answers
318 views

Should I research what my protagonist’s job would involve, or just create it all from my imagination?

My protagonist works in a pharma company and I really don't have a clue about how they work, what kind of a life they live and all. It is required for the plot to make him work in a company which ...
5
votes
8answers
230 views

To read or not to read similar works before write my own?

I was thinking if is better or worst to read other works that share similar ideas to the story you want to write before you start it or while doing it. Two quick answers comes to my mind: Yes, do ...
5
votes
4answers
229 views

An online resource where writers can get quick answers to questions about the real world?

Detailed research is all very well, but quite honestly there are times when it would just be a better use of your time to fire off a quick question and get a quick reply from the bounteous well of ...
5
votes
3answers
199 views

Writing a character that does not share your ethnic background?

When you make a character that isn't your own race or ethnic background, you have to research things, in order to avoid misrepresentation. But, what must you research about a given ethnic group? How ...