Okay, the title is a bit dramatic. However, research is a powerful tool. Authors across the global relay on information gathered by fellow authors, historians and academics. Two children’s book authors come to mind: J.K. Rowling and Lisa Yee. The creator of the Harry Potter universal has said countless times that studying mythology, gathering names and tapping into available resources was key to giving life to the phenomenal series.
Several years ago, I heard Lisa Yee speak about Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time. She mentioned that at the time, she was only familiar with the life of girls. In an effort to decode the world of teen boys, she hung out near skate parks. Brilliant. I’ve read Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time and so should you. She nailed teen boys ways of speaking , body language and style.
One more example, Libba Bray. Have you heard of the Diviners series?(Gasps of horror for those of you who haven’t.) Google it, same goes for Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time. Libba credits research of the 1920s (in the form of books written during that period, books about 1920s fashion and tours of historic buildings) for breathing life into the Diviners trilogy. The result is writing rich in details and strong enough to make you feel like you’re in the Cotton Club when it’s raided.
If you write, you need to use research. Of course not every project requires this tool but use as necessary. Grab a stack of books, turn to you search engine or high-jack a librarian (just kidding, but they love to assist with research).The level of vibrancy in your plot and depth of your characters may hinge on facts. Fantasy, SCI-FI and Fiction can be enriched by elements of reality and history. Don’t be afraid to use research.