Tuesday 29 March 2016

Researching your Novel by Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBooCha

Researching your Novel
by Melissa Gijsbers

For many of us, ideas come from our imaginations, however there may be parts of our stories we need to research so we get the facts right.

Some of us will do our research before we start writing, during the planning process. Some of us will research as we go, and some of us will mark our manuscript so we can research some facts and then come back and fill in the gaps when our draft has been completed.

Regardless of when you do your research, there are a number of sources you can use to research the facts for your story. These include:

Internet Search
For most of us, this is our go to option. We bring up our favourite search engine, type in search terms and then wade through the hundreds or thousands of results to find the information we are looking for. There are times we will strike gold, and other times we don't. If this doesn't work, then...

Talk to your Librarian
Did you know that libraries have access to a large number of online databases as well as a large reference library? Not to mention they are great people for authors to talk to. Talk to your local librarian about what you are researching. You never know, they may know about your topic or have access to a database or resource you haven't thought of yet that can provide you with the facts you are looking for.

Talk to an expert
Experts are often happy to share their knowledge with authors. Find an expert in the field you are researching and contact them to see if they would be happy to answer some questions. They are often busy people, so make an appointment or talk to them via email to get the information you need for your story. Don't forget to acknowledge them when you publish your book.

Read a book or two or three
Depending on what you are researching, there are likely to be books you can buy or borrow to help you. They may be non-fiction books on your topic, or fiction books that deal with the issue you are writing about. Reading other books on your topics may also help you see how other authors deal with your topic.

Listen to a Podcast or watch a Video
There are Podcasts and Videos on just about any subject. Do a search in iTunes or YouTube or even your favourite search engine to see what talks and videos are available. While you are listening or watching, take notes to help with your research.

As you are doing your research, keep a record of the books, websites, and other sources you have used so you can refer back to them and include a bibliography in your book if necessary.


Melissa Gijsbers is an Australian author and blogger. Her first children's book, "Swallow Me, NOW!" published in 2014, was written during the Chapter Book Challenge in 2013. She is due to release her second book, also written during the Chapter Book Challenge, around May this year.  When she's not writing or coming up with ideas for stories, she's running around after two active boys and working in the family business. You can find her online at MelissaGijsbers.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/melissagijsbers.


Melissa Gijsbers has generously offered, as today's give-away, an e-book copy of her middle grade book Swallow Me, Now! If you are a signed-up member of ChaBooCha, all you need to do to be entered into the drawing for this book is comment on this blog post. Winners will be selected from a random number generator on March 31st at noon (GMT).


  1. Great post, thanks for your good suggestions!!!!

  2. Hi, Melissa! I love researching. YouTube videos are extremely helpful in filling in sensory details of a place. I just rewrote a koala PB and researched Black Hill Conservation Park in Australia. Beautiful!

  3. I love to go on field trips - think I'll write a book about Disney World! Great post!

  4. Great post, Melissa! Thank you for the researching tips I love doing research and am usually on the internet during the day gathering material for 2-3 books at a time

  5. Wonderful informative post Melissa! Research is one of my favorite things to do. I often get side traced easily and learning something new or often get a new story idea from it. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Melissa,
    I've spent this whole month doing research on an MG novel and a PB revision. It's been great fun. thanks for detailing the different ways research can be done.

  7. Never thought of using YouTube for research. Thanks for the tip, Melissa!