While the Internet provides the virtual world at our fingertips, making it possible to do research for writing projects that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do, it’s the hands-on research that benefits me the most. The times that get me out of my office and catapults me into the real world of experience. Of course, I suppose one’s primary learning style is largely responsible for how one best retains information. Of the three learning styles, audio, visual, and kinesthetic, my primary is kinesthetic, then visual, then audio. That being said, my audio learning ability has increased tremendously since I’ve been listening to writing books on audible every chance I get.
As for doing research out in the field, traveling provides amazing opportunities to create settings that paint a vivid, real picture in the reader’s mind. Actually seeing the sights and experiencing it with all of the senses, makes it a real part of the writer.
One’s job provides bottomless ideas for story fodder.
Relationships provide ideas for feelings and dialogue.
People watching, whether it be at the mall, at the coffee shop, on the bus, at work, in an elevator, etc., provides the opportunity to capture facial expressions, snippets of dialogue, clothing styles, interactions between people, etc.
Participating in volunteer activities and hobbies helps grow characters into well-rounded people to incorporate into a novel/story.
Last weekend I attended the quarterly meeting for a writer’s group I belong to, Sisters in Crime – Colorado. We had a guest speaker, Dr. Laurie Sperry, Associate Professor, Regis University, who discussed the different typologies of stalkers. By the time she was done, we knew the behavioral traits our stalker characters would portray on the page, depending on what type of stalker s/he is. That kind of information is like candy to a group of mystery writers. And how much better it is to be there and taste that candy than to simply look at a picture of it on the Internet!
The place I work has a Citizen’s Academy going on this month. Next week is the class on arson investigations and a presentation from the Coroner’s Office. The following week is a presentation on Crime Scene Analysis. Bonus for a mystery writer!
An organization for which I’m a sponsor, Compassion International, offers an opportunity called The Compassion Experience, where you get to experience another country, another culture, without leaving yours.
There are opportunities literally everywhere to taste life and be a doer rather than sit back and be an observer. Make it a goal to do something every day, starting today.
Let’s talk – What is your primary learning style? What kind of research do you do for your writing?