Researching for your WIP!

As a serious planner, I love spending time before I start writing building up my world and characters. Personally, I find that it helps me follow a path without worrying about coming up with ideas on the fly. Maybe it’s the history graduate in me but, part of this is researching some aspects of my plot or important bits of information so I have them on hand while writing.

I started this process when I took part in National Novel Writing Month in 2019 and it meant that I wrote a lot more than I usually would because I’d already thought about what I might need to include/know about.

I always find myself saying this in these posts, but just for clarity, by no means am I the be all and end all of writing advice. Iโ€™ve never had anything published but my aim here is to hold myself accountable and track my writing journey in the hopes that what works for me might work for someone else ๐Ÿ˜Š


To give an example that might help explain what I mean, for my current WIP (Covenโ€™s Blood, which is a witchy novel with some dark undertones) I put together a document that outlined the following:

  • Ingredients for spells (and their properties)
  • Crystals (and their properties)
  • Spells (and their purposes)
  • Incantations (and their translations)
  • Types of potions (and how to tell them apart)
  • Religious beliefs and where they might stem from (Wicca, runes, special objects, Lilith, etc.)
  • The origins of sayings that I wanted to include
  • Rhyming words for spells

My basic aim was to cover all of the bases so that I could refer back to this document when I was stuck. It really did come in handy!

Here are some questions that you might want to think about ๐Ÿ“š

Is there a religion in your story? Is it real or made up? Do all of the characters share the same beliefs? What are the main aspects of the religion? Justice? Chastity? Vengeance?

Is your story based on a myth? Is it real or made up? What’s the purpose? Does it impact the journey of your characters? Why? Have you researched it/other similar myths?

How does magic work in your world? Can anyone wield it? Is it visible? Do they use wands or hand movements? Where do the roots come from? Do they include runes or symbols? What do they mean? How are they incorporated?

How will you construct spells? Would you benefit from writing these out beforehand? Are there actions to accompany it? Look into how basic spells are formed, their length/vocabulary.

Will they use potions? What ingredients are included and why? What will they do?

Is your character an expert in something? What are the basics that they should know? Where did they learn that? How much do they know? Are their any prominent figures that they talk about?

Are animals involved? Are they real or made up? Do your characters need to know about their traits/patterns/appearance/habitats? Are they similar to an animal you know?

Is your story based in a specific time period? What was happening? What were the big events? Will they impact your story? Did people dress/act/cook/work differently? Think about the popular brands/music/slang of the time.

Are there any important documents involved? Look into the law and protocols behind them.

Is there any technology involved? Do your characters need to know how it works? Is it real or made up? Is it based on an existing model?

Does mental health play a part? What are the main factors/causes/triggers/treatments that they may encounter? What tropes should you avoid? Look into own voices experiences.

Is there a disease playing a part in your story? Is it real or made up? What are the symptoms/treatments/mortality rates? How and how fast does it spread? Is it similar to a known disease?

Are you writing about extreme weather? Do you need to look at weather patterns and where/when they occur?


So, what did you think? Do you spend time researching for your WIP? Is it something you’re going to try next time? Iโ€™d love to know! 

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if youโ€™d like to discuss this post (or anything else I talk about) in more detail ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ“š

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