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Start writing fiction: characters and stories
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4.1.2 Different approaches to research

Figure 3

As you can see, different writers have differing approaches to research – and you may find a similar variety among any fellow writers. But are there things you have to do?

Consider what the novelists that you’ve just heard – Tim Pears, Patricia Duncker and Alex Garland – say about research, and note down your thoughts. The relevant questions might start with:

  • What are the key areas of research for writing a novel?
  • Does life experience have anything to do with research?
  • Do you have to undertake research for a novel or story that is set in the present day?
  • Are there any dangers in researching for a story? If so, how do you counter these dangers?
  • Can you rely on memory if writing about an era within your lifetime?
  • What was the difference in attitudes towards research between the three writers?