Writing Fiction? Here are some reasons why doing proper research is absolutely vital.
Good research is the foundation of many great novels. Be it in the genres of historical, romance, contemporary, or any fictional story that involves real events, research is incredibly important, not only for authenticity, but for grounding as well.
Readers can tell when the work is unprepared and not properly researched, especially when talking about places or events that people have seen and lived through. The phrase “write what you know” is highly suggested; why would anyone write about something they are not familiar with? Despite this, there are many attempts to do so. There is nothing wrong with world building from points of time or based on certain events, but many assume that the details (specifically accurate ones) should be reserved for non-fiction. So when it comes to fiction, a lot of writers just throw preparation to the wind and write about things they have very little information about. This is why there are so many romance novels in mismatched periods, very tasteless WW2 novels, and the use of very modern language in medieval fantasy. People literally write about what they know (which isn’t a lot), so is research it really necessary when creating good fiction? Absolutely.
These are some reason why good research should be done before you write your novel.
So you started writing when you get to a part where you have to describe a medical condition your character is going through, and you are stumped. Researching properly about this medical condition you decided on for your character before writing will help you avoid the dreaded writer’s block and save you a lot of time.
Your character is a young twenty-something millennial wearing the trendiest shorts and sandals in the empty temples of Bangkok where she meets the love of her life. For one thing, those temples are always crowded, and second, nobody is allowed to go in wearing shorts and sandals in the temples. So it takes away the reality and alienates those who have actually been there. Avoid this at all cost.
How can you properly write about a high-tension scenario in a Spanish galleon when you don’t have a clue about the Age of Exploration? How can you write a steamy Victorian romance without any prior knowledge about the clothing of that time? The devil is in the details, and that can make or break your writing career.
Writers that are penning books with scientific angles or historical facts should be really careful about this. Many readers inadvertently retain information from the books they read, so giving false information is not only morally wrong, it is potentially dangerous.
These are just reasons why you as a writer should research, and do it thoroughly. However, we must all remember the pitfall of including too much of your research into your novel. Just like putting too much seasoning on a dish, too many facts and details might overwhelm the main content and characters making for a very substandard novel. So write what you know, but make sure what you write is right.