Like it or not, research is part of a writer’s job. We have a duty to our story to make sure we’re getting the details right. It’s a duty to our readers, as well. You will never know what knowledge your reader is coming to your book with, and you don’t want them to be distracted from your story because of factual errors.
As writers, we might think that simply doing a few searches online and using our imaginations is enough, but there’s no substitute for doing an interview someone with knowledge in your area of interest, whether through vigorous study or life experience. Maybe it’s just my journalist side talking, but I don’t think that there’s anything that can replace a first-hand account when it comes to learning about events, eras or cultures that you’re not familiar with.
How do I decide when a formal interview is necessary?
Interviews should never be your first course of action. Make sure that you’ve spent at least a week researching your before interviewing someone. Neither of you wants to spend the time it takes to do an interview for information you could have found on your own.
(If you need help with starting your research, read “How to Cut the Crap and Research Your Novel Efficiently” from Kristen @ She’s Novel.)
Of course, if you’re close to someone who knows a lot about a particular subject, it might be a lot easier to simply pick their brain whenever you have a specific question instead of digging around on google to find reliable sources. Even though this might be a more informal form of interviewing, it’s still good manners to make sure they’re comfortable with answering your questions, and to make sure to thank them in a meaningful way for their help.
So you’ve done some thorough background research, but you’re still a little fuzzy on some aspects of your topic or missing that last little bit of information you need to complete your vision. None of your friends are interested in your topic, and you know that this piece of information is vital for your story. It’s time to start planning your interview, my friend! To make the first few steps easier, I’ve even and made you an awesome Pre-Interview Worksheet!Read More »