We are at the final step requiring you to edit your Outline. Here comes the research.

Noooo! The horror, the horror! Keep calm, how to research comes later, now we're organizing research and minimizing it to remove some of the pain    Credit

In Writing 101: 1- we covered inspiration, in 101 2- we wrap up creating materials for guidance with this lesson, and in our next lesson we move on to 101: 3- where we cover the things you'll need to know when you start writing your manuscript. At this point let's assume you're reading these lessons to work on your first novel. Our time length is 1 year from inception to publishing. This is the step that will make or break that timeline. This is the step when we decide what we need to research.

First, pull out your outline. Make sure it's the one that is marked with external and internal conflicts as well as character development arc points. Before we get to labeling research notations, what needs to be researched? In short, anything you are not familiar with. Try using the following list to see what things commonly need detailed, correct information.

 - Geographic location
    - Population
    - Flora & fauna
    - Major landmarks/festivals/traditions
 - Time Period
    - Hallmarks of the time period
    - State of technology of the time period
    - State of culture/society of the time period
    - Clothing of the time period
 - Specific setting
    - Type of housing or conveyance
    - Commonalities of setting and class
 - Hobbies
 - Health Conditions
 - Pets
 - Weapons 
 - Vehicles
 - Heavy Equipment
 - Historical Items
 - Custom Crafted Items
 - Historical Figures
 - Figures of public domain fiction
 - Characters representing a foreign culture
 - Characters working high-profile real jobs

Sure... theoretically you might think the grand climax of your story should happen at CERN's Hadron collider but unless you know how it works you can't be sure    Credit

There are many more, but those are the main ones. If you see any of those things in your outline that you don't know backwards and forwards, you'll need to research it. This step is not actually doing the research, but organizing what you need to research so there is a process to follow.

If you see anything you need to research it MUST be connected to an internal conflict, external conflict, character development arc point OR be in your first paragraph establishing time period, setting, or character.  In that first paragraph or possibly two where you are establishing setting, protagonist, and antagonist you may have two to three research notations per paragraph but for the rest of your outline you can have no more than one research notation per paragraph. if you end up with more than that you need to change those items to things you know better, or consider putting this project aside. Anything more than one research notation per body paragraph of your outline is too many.

Now you need to mark two kinds of research notations. Again these should occur in conjunction with a external conflict, internal conflict, or character development arc. Any research point that occurs with an external conflict is an active research notation. Anything that occurs with an internal conflict, character development arc, or in the establishing paragraphs is a passive research notation. Color these separately so you can easily distinguish your passive and active research notations. Once again anything more often that once a paragraph in the body paragraphs of your outline must be cut down, fixed, or the entire project must be put aside.

Here's whee if you have OCD you can shine as a writer. Remember, keep everything labelled and organized or THE WORLD WILL FUCKING END


Passive research notations dealing with the establishing paragraphs must be researched before writing. These are the things that set the tone of the world and flesh out characters and places for the reader. You must know what you're doing before you write. Make a list in a new document of passive research notations in the order they appear on your outline. Onto them will got the most pertinent facts you need. Again today we're not getting into how to research, we're sticking to what to research. How comes in our next lesson. Passive research notations dealing with character development arcs are rare and usually involve a condition or conditional item. These you want to glance over research to make sure they are feasible. For example if you need your character to be injured and unconscious and think a concussion would be best, research it enough to realize the whole stay-awake thing is bullshit. If it's required your hero be unconscious you have to change the outline to something that works.

Now turn to your active research notations. These are the things that occur at external conflict. These things will typically deal with items such as weapons or vehicles, or procedures such as security clearances of how-to. You will want to also review these before writing. Here's where you can use Wikipedia if you're unfamiliar with a type of gun for example. Read over it and if it will not work, replace it with something that will in your outline.

To make things easiest you'll want to research active research notations before writing, but make sure to skim through general info on them first to decide if they will be used or not. If you have to change anything, change your outline accordingly. Organize all your research notations in a separate file in the order they appear in your outline, and color code them as active or passive.

If you're doing this by hand you're going to need a tn of these, and double the time. Don't go cutesy-hipster, stick to computers.    Credit


Next we'll begin the 101: 3- series which kicks off with how to research. By now you know what to research. Remember you can have two-three research notations in the first one-two establishing paragraphs, and in all of your outline's body paragraphs you may only have one research notation per paragraph, that's one TOTAL. If we're sticking to a timetable of one year to write a novel this is the maximum you can have for a fictional story. Any more than that and you MUST change it OR set it aside and begin a new project. Keep your notations organized in a separate sheet, ordered as they appear in the outline. Remember to glance over active research notations and passive character arc research notations to double check they are possible, and change whatever is not.

Once you've done all this there will be no more changes to your outline...for some time. Keep a copy of your marked outline handy but if all the colors distract you make a spare copy without notations of any kind. With time you'll be able to read the marked copy better and discover just how useful it is. Until next time, take a break once you have everything organized.