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Research - Seek and You Will Find

Aug 25, 2008
I am going to write about research and I believe that it would be better for me to define the word before explaining it in detail. The Webster Dictionary defines research as,

"Careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge, undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles. P 1208" 1982.

However the definition does not state the irrefutable fact that cognitive human beings are engaged in research every day of their lives.

A three-week old baby is aware of the fact that when she is hungry she will scream her little head off and someone will feed her. The crying is an instinctive survival mechanism but the correlation between making loud noises and achieving positive results is a form of research known as trial and error. How about checking your fuel gauge to see if you need gas or your watch to see what time it is, or collecting and checking the documents you need for that all-important meeting, and of course checking the weather and traffic before leaving home for your commute. I could go on and on but I think I have made the point. The process of research is intensified in schools, colleges, and universities across the nation and it is therefore a logical assumption that you are well prepared to garner the information you need before and during the process of writing your book.

The process of research begins in your head. Your brain, mind, and memory will combine their resources to create an image of what you want to say and how you intend to say it. You should extract this information and keep it in note form, and I must pass on an important piece of advice. You should always have a notebook and a pen or pencil to jot down your thoughts and even your dreams and that includes your daydreaming. You will discover that from time to time your mind will drift away from the demands of the immediate and you will begin to think about the anecdotal episodes in your past and your hopes and expectations for the future. You are daydreaming and this is good, as soon as you return to the present grab your notebook and record what you were daydreaming about. A word of caution, please do not daydream while you are driving or operating machinery.

Creating characters is an essential to the write process. Every character in your book should have a history and a personality. He or she must be carefully developed to fit into the story line or plot. For example, "John may be white, six feet-two, slim and athletic with a touch of gray at the temples. He is ruggedly handsome, polite and has a charming smile."

Research is vital in every aspect in the development in your body of work, John and others will not appear out of thin air you have to search for them. If your story is set in Miami, Florida, what do you know about the geography, topography, and demography of Dade county and Miami? What about buildings and their architecture ancient and modern, the intercoastal, the cruise ships and yachts, and the ethnic diversity? In order to create a credible setting research is essential. Use your personal knowledge, use your computer and if possible pay a visit, get a sense and feel of the environment and take pictures, lots of pictures, go for it.
About the Author
Bernard Steele is a veteran law enforcement officer (operational and administrative), now retired. He was the former chief security officer of the National Banking System of Guyana S.A. To learn about his new book visit Death in Small Doses.
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