Research is actually fun, but you really must create a system to make it efficient. By that I mean, do you know where your information is when you need it?
The first gem I’ve discovered is my camera. I can be impressed with the old ghost town, but taking pictures of it for later is priceless.
I take notes (in a spiral notebook – so I don’t lose any pages) to go with the pictures, because if you’re like me, ideas start flooding and I know for a fact I’ll never be able to remember them later.
· Research is the beginning point for my note-taking for each story. I’ll later add character names, physical traits, etc.
Once you get home from a gathering trip, do more research online and scrutinize your facts. Never rely on one result for facts, but review multiple reputable sources. It’s great to have too much information for your book – too little slows things down. Looking for more information brings your writing to a complete halt. It messes with your pacing, so I collect a plethora of data for each book, using maybe a forth of it in the actual book
· Never include all the information you've accumulated because it’s interesting or because you have it and want to share how much you know. It will slow your story down and even become boring. Less is more in this case!
Be very wary of cutting and pasting information directly into your manuscript. You would never want to be guilty of plagiarism. You might have to say the same thing as your research describes, but make sure you describe it in your own words.
· I often find sights that will be helpful in more than one manuscript. In these cases I like to ‘add the sight to my favorites.’
o You can copy and paste the information you need from online sources, but again, make sure you don’t incorporate them verbatim into your manuscript. I like to paste them below my work, and draw what I need as I’m typing. This way you won’t inadvertently ‘copy’ more research than I planned, again – keeping in mind plagiarism.
Keeping a notebook for each book you write is a great habit to get into. Everything you need is right in front of you, and not on various pieces of paper – that you must waste time trying to find – interrupting your writing.
I’d like to add here, don’t use research as a tool of procrastination for not writing. I know writers who spend more time traveling and doing research than they do writing. If you’re serious about finishing your book, set a goal and do whatever it takes to meet that goal – or even finish it early!