Research After Writing

I’m in the middle of the WIP. This is the part of the book that seems like it will never end. To make matters muddier, I’m in unfamiliar territory with the whole police procedure thing. My plan is to make up stuff for now and research later. It’s the only way I can move forward. And that’s what I need to do right now.

Super busy with school, so I only have time for an hour or two of writing in the mornings. That hour or two makes the rest of my day okay. In a few weeks, when the semester is over, I’ll have all the time in the world for research. I’m thinking I should just watch every CSI ever aired. That counts as research, right? (Kidding.)

What’s good about moving forward through unfamiliar territory is that I don’t get bogged down with research, I don’t spend days, weeks, and months learning things I don’t really need to know. If I shape my story first, I’ll know exactly what I need to research and then I just google it. It’s not a very scholarly method, but it works for me.


  1. Sounds like the best way to work on a novel, Cindy. I’ve often marveled at how novelists have to research so much of what goes into their books. Reading Alice Hoffman’s “Practical Magic,” for example, I realized that Hoffman must have spent A LOT of time reading about herbal lore and healing. Fascinating stuff.


  2. Yeah, I did that for a bit but eventually I’d written myself into a corner and had to research. Now I will go back and re-outline and start from there. Next book, I am outlining first.


  3. I’m reminded of the so-called CSI Effect.

    From Wikipedia:

    The CSI effect (sometimes referred to as the CSI syndrome) is a reference to the phenomenon of popular television shows such as the CSI franchise raising crime victims’ and jury members’, even criminals’, real-world expectations of forensic science, especially crime scene investigation and DNA testing.

    It makes me wonder if writers of criminal fiction have a responsibility to reflect the real procedures of policing (which readers may have no concept of) or to reflect the “CSI” Hollywood version (which readers may be familiar with, may expect to be true, even when they are not.)

    I guess the best example of this that I have personally encountered was discovering some genuine footage of a prisoner shooting themselves in custody on the website. [You can view the article and video here, though be advised it is a bit confronting.] As they note it is so far removed from the kind of manufactured violence that we are familiar with from television and movies.

    Best of luck with the book.


  4. John, I knew someone once who was an actual crime scene investigator, and she used to get so pissed off at the way television falsely and ridiculously portrayed her profession. What’s a writer to do? I think I’ll probably go with the real research as opposed to the televised version…


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