Research Before Writing a Novel

Book Title:  Kilingiri
Author:  Janna Gray
Release Date:  May 21st 2013
Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Saga, Saga
Presented by:  As You Wish Tours
Research before writing a Novel

I have either lived in or spent a considerable time visiting all Kilingiri’s exotic locations so I was fortunate to have my memory, photograph albums and diaries to turn to when writing the book. But having said that, memory can be fickle and clouded by personal experiences and opinions so I had to do a considerable amount of research via books and the net or by talking to people to ensure I’d got my facts right.
There is nothing more annoying than reading a book which contains inaccurate information about locations, eras or historical events. To create a comprehensive background to a novel, to make it ‘real’, the writer must include details that make up the characters’ lives – what they wore, what they ate, their speech patterns, what influenced their thoughts, the music they listened to, their beliefs and customs. In addition, the use of foreign words within the novel has to be correct too because the chances are that at least one of your readers knows or happens to know someone who speaks the language you’ve mentioned!
At the start of Kilingiri, Nina is pregnant and unmarried and has been sent away to live in Kashmir until her father, a diplomat, can cobble together a story that will account for the presence of a grandchild without a father. This information conveys to the reader that the novel is set in an era when illegitimacy wasn’t the norm or certainly not accepted in a particular stratum of society, or it could be the story of a woman from a much stricter culture in the 1990s or the 21st century. Then descriptions of Nina’s clothes, the way she speaks, the music she listens to and actual ‘real time’ events combine to offer the reader a wealth of clues as to the timeframe in which the story takes place.
The characters’ reactions to particular events and experiences have to be realistic too. Very few people spring back from traumatic incidents in five minutes, but equally people react differently to harrowing experiences, some taking the blows in their stride, others going to pieces. In Kilingiri Nina’s reaction to the death of her child is perhaps not how most people would respond but knowing her backstory enables the reader to understand and perhaps even sympathise, and Josh would have been considered decidedly odd had he not got drunk, tried it on with girls and played heavy metal music loud during his teenage years. Without this input, Nina and Josh would be stereotypes, devoid of individuality and quite frankly boring!
However, although research is essential for novels that are rooted in planet earth time, it is important not to get bogged down in massive amounts of technical detail at the expense of the writer’s personal observations about the characters’ personas. Research when done properly adds depth and detail to a story but the  ‘voice’ – the combination of the writer’s use of punctuation, syntax, dialogue and so forth gives the written piece its style and flair and its unique quality.  My sons refused to read the love scenes in Kilingiri – they claim they can hear me speaking the words and, poor souls, actually doing what I’m describing, and that in their opinions is way too much information!
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