Nov 17 / Anita Siraki

Research for Writers

When most writers think about the prospect of doing research, a common reaction is to cringe. Another response can be to find that the laundry and washing the dishes have suddenly become much more urgent. One of the reasons for this is because research is difficult. It strikes many writers as daunting, and with good reason. It can be overwhelming to stare down the barrel and wonder if a person will need to do 5 years or more of research. While that does happen, the most common reason for fear of how to do research is because many writers don’t know where to begin.

Writers may have images in their heads of having to go to a stuffy, dark archive and ask someone questions or to find something for them. Perhaps someone who is not very friendly or helpful. This is intimidating enough when we’re not in a pandemic. Factor that in on top of every other stress we’re dealing with and you have a recipe for writers putting off research.

I understand this hesitation very well having faced it myself. When I was studying for my master’s degree to become a librarian, there were a lot of guidelines to follow when I needed to do archival work, or request rare books from one of the libraries on campus, in addition to the regular research for papers and assignments. Switching to my writer hat for a moment, I’ve been obsessed with doing research since I can remember. It has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the entire process. Not everyone feels that way, and I understand that. When a person doesn’t know where to begin, or they’re not sure if the sources they’re finding online are good, or if they’ve done enough research, it can all seem daunting.

My course, “The Basics of Research for Writers,” is meant as a guide to help students demystify some of those intimidating aspects and give them the knowledge of where to start. It is also intended to show those who take the course that public library catalogs are incredibly robust and sophisticated tools. Once you get into the hang of how to use them, especially the filters on the left side of the screen, you will be well on your way to finding some of the most relevant and reliable resources that are going to help you make sure you’ve done your homework for the project you’re writing. Without further ado, hop on board the research train and we’ll get you to where you need to go.

New Series Exclusively at SFA

Here at SFA we like to learn about craft, sure, but we like to talk about it too.  We are elated to do so with none other than the creator of the Beef, Wine, and Shenanigans podcast and award-winning horror author, Steven Van Patten.  You can only enjoy his pontification about movies here at Speculative Fiction Academy... and sometimes even in costume!

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