How Do You Research a New Book Idea?

Filed under: Pondering, Reading, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I’ll be honest, I’m not really a researcher in the traditional sense of the word. I hear about writers attacking mountains of data for non-fiction and historical fiction–and quite frankly–I start to hyperventilate. That stuff freaks me out!


I’m sucky at tasks with a high attention to detail and prefer to flit around like a butterfly, but I’ve also come to realize that I do have a Kim version of research. Like most people, I start with an idea. Usually a question–an itch that must be scratched. I spend a lot of time, while I’m revising my current WIP, tossing the new nugget of an idea around in my mind. I examine it from every angle. Usually I find, that while I have a starting point, I don’t have enough stuff  to write a complete story. In essence, I’m lacking the threads to weave a full blanket. I’ve only got enough to do a half of a sweater. This idea tossing sounds like pretty typical behavior for most writers, but this is where I get a little weird. When I get stuck trying to find the rest of those threads, I go divining for inspiration in the book store the way this guy uses a dowsing stick to find water.iStock_000006326698XSmall

The first thing I do is wander around a book store. (One of my favorite things to do in the whole world. *sigh*) I keep my mind open and I touch books. I literally walk around trailing my fingers over spines and grabbing random books that have covers that pull me in. Then I read the jackets and see if anything resonates. If my mind and my fingers get a little jumpy with curiosity, the way that dowsing stick does over water, I add another book onto my pile of “research.” I usually come home with an eclectic pile of books and after I read them, I some how I find my answers. I’m not really sure how it works. On my more logical days, I believe that reading simply stimulates the mind and if you read enough, you’ll stumble across enough questions and answers to fill a book. Other days, I’m pretty damn sure that I was born to be an author and when you’re doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing, the universe is happy and rewards you with a little magic. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both. LOL!

How do you like to research a new book?



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  1. I tend to follow the breadcrumbs around the internet. If/when that leads me to good books, I go to the library and/or bookstore and grab them. Eventually the sparks in my head ignite, and I’m off.

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