Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger: Michelle Cary

Today I want to talk about the benefits of doing research for your stories. Not only is it necessary to ensure you write a believable story, but you might just learn something in the process.

What if you're one of those people who hate to spend time researching and would rather just write? Not a problem. The great thing about research is that the opportunity to learn new things is all around you. While the library and the Internet are fabulous places for finding information, don't limit yourself to only these avenues. Think outside the box. Say you need to go to the DMV to renew your license. Take note of the procedures you need to follow, the wait, the people around you, because you never know when you might be able to use this information in a scene.

The same thing goes for anything you do from grocery shopping to doctor's appointments. Anything can be considered research if you're in the right frame of mind. I'd suggest keeping a small notebook and pen or two in strategic places such as your purse and car, because you never know what you might come across the opportunity to learn something, or have a moment of inspiration. If you write down the details as they happen, you're less likely to forget them. Trust me you'll be happy you did.

I recently used a trip to Las Vegas to see my brother-in-law get married as it an opportunity for research. I took tons of pictures and lots of notes and the great thing is, if I get the story written and accepted by the end of the year, I can even deduct my part of the trip off my taxes next year as research.

Speaking of taxes--under the right circumstances, you can deduct your research. Does that mean you can write off your grocery bill if you learn something at the store and use it in a scene for one of your stories? Not necessarily, though with the rising cost of food prices that would be great if we could. I'd advise you check with your accountant or even the IRS website for specific information on what is considered an acceptable deduction. And remember, when you're sitting in traffic frustrated beyond words, turn the moment into an opportunity for research. It will make the moment more interesting and less frustrating.

Oh, and one last thing. Thank you, Marianne for allowing me to hijack your blog for the day. It's been fun!

About the author: When Michelle isn’t engrossed in her favorite hobby of scrapbooking pictures of her family and friends, she usually can be found with a laptop attached to the end of her fingers. That is when she’s not working to maintain a functioning household or running her two children to and from play dates.

Artistic from an early age, she spent her childhood dabbling in different artistic media.

A lover of romance novels, Michelle decided a few years ago to try her hand at creating fictional worlds through words instead of paint. The result has given her an entirely new perspective on the world. Every day affords new opportunities for ideas and new ways to create the perfect happily ever after.

Raised in ‘small town’ Illinois, Michelle now lives in New Jersey with her extremely supportive albeit somewhat neglected husband and their two beautiful children. For updates on her latest work, check out her website at, her blog at or visit her myspace page at


Melissa said...

Doing research is one of my fave parts of the writing process. It's amazing how learning a tidbit can give you a totally unexpected plot point!

Amy Addison said...

Reserach is like exercise: I do it because it's good for me, not because I enjoy it.

I've always considered research for stories a necessary evil, but inevitably find that one gem of an inde in my research notes that really makes the story pop.

Dru said...

Great interview. Research is a part of my job so I'm always finding interesting tidbits that I'll use in the future.

Brandy said...

I'm not a writer, but I do like taking a subject and doing research on it. Thanks for the post!