The importance of research
Today I’d like to write about why it is important to do research on the topics you want to include in your writing, even if they don’t play a big part in the main story. Last year, I wrote a paper for uni in which I compared two novels that include a lot of references to music; in fact, both the main characters run record shops. I wanted to find out how the choice of music influenced the reader’s experience, but also if it had been based on personal taste or any other criteria. The plots of both High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce weren’t only about music, and I suppose not every reader would think about the chosen songs and references as much as I did, but as music has always been a big part of my life, I thought this was a really interesting aspect.
I examined the lyrics of some of the songs in both books, to see if there might be a connection between the choice of songs and the plots, or if they were basically arbitrary, or just based on the tastes of the authors. Some of the songs were quite well-known, others I had never heard of before. What I discovered might not be a surprise … Yes, I found that at least some of the chosen songs do seem to reflect the emotions and changes that the main characters go through, even though they don’t necessarily play an important part in the plots. My research on both authors revealed that Nick Hornby had had a lot of experience with music in the past, as he had been a music critic for several years, and Rachel Joyce had done a lot of research in order to write her novel.
My point? Research and knowledge about the thing you are writing about make a difference – and should be taken seriously if you want to sound authentic. It’s going to be more difficult to write about a sport you’ve never tried yourself without asking somebody else about it, just as it’ll take some research to write about a town in Italy if you’ve never been there yourself before.