March 2, 2023
I am often asked about my writing process and how much research I do for my novels.
I cannot envision a novel taking form with no research having been done. However, I find that doing too much research can lead to a never-ending quest for more and more information. A famous author like James Rollins limits the time he devotes to research, even though his novels are immersed in scientific themes and details.
I keep research to a reasonable minimum. I have a few specific people on whom I depend for factual details and expertise: a gunsmith for information about weapons; an attorney for legal information; a police chief for police procedural details (which I try to keep to a minimum); and of course, the internet, which provides plenty of scientific, medical, legal, and other information. Before computers and the internet, I spent a good deal of time in libraries, which was an arduous way of doing research.
I truly feel that character is mainly responsible for a novel’s narrative drive, so I concentrate on the protagonist’s emotions (as well as on the antagonist’s angst) to provide the story with a relentless push forward. I always want the reader to question “What happens next?” and try not to let the story get bogged down in too much research-oriented description. I know writers who label a plethora of research-oriented descriptions as the “Tom Clancy Effect,” which many readers relish while others love a more quickly paced (and nuanced) approach to storytelling.
My books fall into the more rapidly paced camp. I also find that brief descriptors (often depending on some research) lend sufficient flavor and color to the story so the novel has richness yet doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae.
While research is necessary for verisimilitude, too much of it can be lethal to the narrative thrust of a story, especially when writing a suspense thriller where the author wants the reader to keep turning the pages.
Coming in April
First, his doppelganger is killed—then it’s his father. Rick Shepherd is being stalked by a murderer.
“Downfall is a compelling psychological thriller enriched with a superb (eighties New York) sense of time and place. A page-turner that doesn’t sacrifice depth of understanding of the human condition.”
—Jonathan Kellerman, New York Times best-selling author
Thank you for your support,