Research and Writing

Verisimilitude – Noun. Definition: The appearance or semblance or truth; likelihood; probability.  A word writer often throws around when we want to sound smart or writerly.

As writers our imagination takes us to many places, ideas flood our heads like a tsunami.  Some are good, some are so-so and some are downright MEH!

The Scale premise came pretty easy to me. It was personal and hit way too close to home. I lived it and I know many women who have as well. As I outlined Need You Now (Book 2 of the Martha’s Way Series) I wanted to get away from Minka and Jason and write about a different kind of heroine and hero with their own struggles and strengths. I tossed around many plots, but one kept sticking. Only, I knew nothing about drugs, addiction, child abuse, and murder.

So I did what every writer who wants to write a story that feels real with something unfamiliar to me.  I researched.

Thank goodness for Google, my mother who is a nurse, my mother in law, a retired psychiatric nurse, my lawyer cousin, and my family members who carry a badge. I asked questions and they answered, from gunshot wounds, treating addicts, and the law. They all helped me understand all the little details I needed to capture for my story to be believable and accurate. I took notes. A notebook full.

I admit at one point after reading so much on Google and going through images of drug paraphernalia, addicts, gunshot wounds, dead bodies, I walked away and hurled. It became too much, too consuming. So much so that I contemplated about changing the premise of the book. But my mind had already gone there. I was committed.

So I wrote a novel about things that are foreign to me. In turn I became acquainted with circumstances and a lifestyle that were once unknown. The pain, tragedy, despair, and hopelessness that come with the life we are sometime thrust into or the path we choose to travel.  The ramification from the choices we make and the downright spiral.

Fear not, Need You Now is still a love story. Just like The Scale there’s lots of passion, love and the eventual HEA. But it’s Lily and Adam’s journey. It’s dark and intense, just like Adam and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As writers, just because we are writing a fiction, do we have the right to make up whatever we want? The answer is absolutely yes. It’s our imagination. We create a fictional world to entertain, to engage. I just choose to write realistic fiction and oh boy that requires a lot of research.

Research is a word that fills many creative writers with dread. But I don’t want people reading my story to roll their eyes and say “that would never happen,” therefore, I did my due diligence.

There are plenty of ways to research your novel including the following:

  • Using the internet (obviously the quickest and most painless way)
  • Visiting the library (ah, check you out…the old school approach)
  • Traveling to locations where your story will take place (a bold move. Hell make a vacation out of it.)
  • Interviewing people who know about the things you are writing about (As I was writing a particular scene, I texted my cousin with some legal questions. He responded: Now I know you’ve gone nuts.)

Happy Writing!

Mika Jolie


9 thoughts on “Research and Writing

  1. Pingback: Research and Writing | mikajolie

  2. Loved the Scale. And think I will love this one as well.
    I was determined to not do any kind of research for my story. I was planning to stick to familiar territory. But then, like you, as I was writing I kind of realized that I know nothing. There are all these small, everything aspects of life that need some kind of verification or a better understanding to include them in a story.
    In beginning I was really hesitant, but…it’s really cool to get this new insight and it’s such an eye-opener, even if a lot of the background info never makes it into the book, I learn so much from my own writing, and it’s not all about the craft and how to write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cay, you are so right. And I agree, even if some of the research doesn’t make it to the story, it helps you to understand your characters.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed The Scale. I love that story. I wrote Minka and Jason’s wedding scene today and I actually cried.


  3. Great Post, Mika! I have to admit, a lot of the time I try to stick with things I know just because I’m too lazy to research, but that never works. Since I’m writing about a serial killer now, I’ve been watching the ID network, in the name of research, I tell you!
    But we both know at a certain point, you gotta put the effort in because I, too, don’t want people having to distend their belief that much.
    For example, I work in an ICU, so many things are unbelievable to me. Like the beginning of Walking Dead, dude wakes from a coma in the hospital after however many weeks/months, and they want me to believe it didn’t have a catheter, a rectal tube, wasn’t intubated, and could just walk on his atrophied legs?
    Then again, I guess it is possible to be TOO realistic in fiction. Cause who would have wanted to watch him get out of that mess? (other than me)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma, I know what you mean. I once watched a movie where the woman gave natural birth to a breach baby during a drive to the hospital while a football player (with no medical experience) helped delivered the baby. I was enjoying the movie up to that point. My first born was a breach and I said to my husband: Okay, they just lost me.
      Like you, I prefer to write about things I know, but even then…we need to make sure we capture all the details. And ha! about the walking dead. I think that would make it grittier and better. But that’s just us.


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