Writers’ Tools: Research

“Write what you know,” some like to say.

I think it’s solid advice, and I’ve tried to follow it in my writing, at least to some extent.

I’ve written about law students (After Ten), teachers (Sixth South) and child welfare law (my upcoming release).

I’ve also incorporated some of my own interests into my books, making certain characters hockey fans or wine connoisseurs, for example.

It’s not always possible to just what I know, though. It would make for some pretty dry books. That’s where research comes in.

Some might be surprised how much research goes into writing a book. Even if I am actually writing what I know, there is still some amount of research involved. For example, even though I practice in juvenile law, each states laws are different. My books are set in New Hampshire, a state I’ve never actually even been to (how I ended writing about the fictional town of Hampden Park, NH was the subject of an earlier post). This meant that for my upcoming book, I had to research the nuances of NH child welfare law.

Each of my books involves a great deal of research, some significant, some seemingly more mundane.

What are some of the things I’ve researched? Here’s a brief rundown (by no means an all inclusive list):

Heroin withdrawal
Pornography addiction
Substance Abuse Screening assessments
Childhood speech disorders (specifically, Apraxia)
Reactive Attachment Disorder
Collective Bargaining Agreements for Educators (The Hopkinton, NH school district became the model I used in Sixth South)
Costa Rican beaches
Beachfront amusement parks in Maine
Irish beer
Food and wine pairings
Casserole recipes
Concession options at Fenway park

Next up: Racquetball!

What would I do without Google? I don’t even want to think about it!

Fellow writers, what kinds of things have you had to research in the name of literary accuracy?


2 comments on “Writers’ Tools: Research

  1. Oh goodness… I’ve never had to sit down and research a whole bunch before beginning a book like you’ve had to, but I find myself doing it as I do. Everything I find something I” unsure about, I research it. ah, let’s see….
    farming (even though I grew up on a farm)
    Native American Reservations
    Leukemia (this was a big one)
    drug addiction and withdrawal in general
    welfare fraud
    varying states work laws
    Oklahoma’s drivers license laws

    and so much more I’m sure. It seems to never end. Just when I think I have it figured out, I head back over to google for another round! haha!

  2. oh, stupid typos…forgive me, it’s late. I meant ‘everytime’ not ‘everything’ and ‘I’m’ not ‘I”‘ My apologies!

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