Help For Writers

A number of years ago I attended the meetings of a group as part of the research necessary for a novel I was writing at that time. Today, after all that time, someone asked me how I had found them. I did admit they were research.

As a writer I am often interested in learning new things, meeting different people and exploring new places. All of these things have found their way into my writing in some way or another.

Often writers use books for their research, and lots can be found on the internet, but perhaps your best information will come from someone.

Credibility can be improved by taking the time to meet with people who work in the careers you are writing about. For example: you have a character who is hurt and admitted to the hospital. Finding someone who works in admitting at your local ER can give you an insight into how things will be handled that might be missed otherwise. Or perhaps a nurse can advise you. Even though we consider them minor characters, the lawyer, the police officer, the teacher, or the barista, each of them will have a reader that will either resonate with what you've written or write you off.

The process of research can take many other forms as well. Taking photographs and studying pictures of an area or group of people can give you insight. Drawing or sketching rocks, trees, skylines, etc may give you a reference that will add a new dimension to your story. Geography and climate can also add a tremendous amount to your work as well.

So how can you really expand your insight? Get inside the community your character lives in. Visit laundry mats and diners. Listen to conversations between real people. Ask questions of those who work in the fields your characters do. Read manuals on equipment, plant and bird guides for the area, and geology reports. Visit graveyards, community historic buildings and museums.

Then take your writing to a new level and see how real your entire world becomes.


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook


Heidiwriter said...

Absolutely! If you can cultivate a stable of SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), you will add depth to your writing and not come off as someone who didn't do her research! I've read big-name-published books like that--not good!

Karen Cioffi said...

Research adds credibility and realism to stories and is a necessary element of writing - fiction and nonfiction. Jean, you give some very helpful tips for gathering that research.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great post Jean. Research is important whether it's non-fiction or fiction.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

A definite "must", Jean, It can provide not only authenticity but so many new leads. Thanks for that.

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...