The Magic of Researching for a New Novel

I love when I get new novel ideas. As a writer, a bunch of ideas bounce around in my head all the time, but when a golden thread presents itself, I grab hold and won’t let go. 

I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, in November. Since I got a golden idea a few months ago while I was wrapping up my MFA program, I’ve started researching for the novel. My first two manuscripts are rooted in reality, so they didn’t require an excessive amount of research. The same can’t be said for my new book I’ll be drafting in November. The research process has been a blast, and it made me realize some things that I’d love to share.

Rediscovering My Love for Writing

As you can imagine, querying is rough. That’s why everyone calls it the querying trenches. I’m totally serious about that. I’ve been querying my first book, a YA Mystery, since early July, and though I’ve learned so much about the process, the rejections sting. I was prepared for this, but I wasn’t prepared to lose a little of my passion for writing. Doubts have crept up on me, but still, I fully understand that sometimes, it takes months, or even years, to be offered representation by an agent. Also, it can take more than one manuscript. My second manuscript is revised and ready to go if nothing comes of my first one, and this makes me feel like I have some control over the process. My plan is to begin querying this project in January, but we’ll see how things go for the rest of the year. 

Anyway, since querying has kicked me in the butt for over two and a half months, I decided to let fate run its course and dive into a new project, one I’m beyond excited about. To my surprise, ever since I started my research phase a few weeks ago, I’ve rediscovered my love for writing. This new project lit the flame in my heart again, and knowing I have another manuscript ready to go and a fresh idea to pursue for NaNoWriMo has helped me to stop obsessing over my querying journey. More than anything, my first plunge into the publishing world has taught me so much. No matter what happens, I’ve found my passion again and can take all I learned with me as I write more books. At the end of the day, writing is an author’s life, so it’s important to hold on to my writing passion.

Research is Fun

Okay, you may be thinking that I’m an oddball for saying that research is fun. That’s fine. You can think that, but I’ll still love research. Even in school, I enjoyed writing research papers. Trust me, it’s an English student thing. Reading over twenty books a semester, writing at least one paper a week, and doing tons of research in undergrad didn’t bother me at all. My MFA program wasn’t as heavy on the workload, but still, there was research involved at times. Even though I’ve been a fan of research for years, I haven’t had as much fun as I am now.

I’m going to keep my big mouth shut about what my new book is about, but let’s just say it’s a twist on a fairytale retelling with magic and mythology. My document with notes is overflowing with research about fantastical things, like witchcraft, gods and goddesses from mythology, folklore and legends, and more, and of course, I’m researching the real world side as well. I’ve read books, went down rabbit holes online, and binged more YouTube videos than I’d like to admit. I’ve always loved learning new things, and the research I’ve done has fascinated me. Though my story is set in the real world, the magical elements will give it a fresh twist and make this story stand out from my others. 

The most fun part about researching for the story is grabbing onto different threads of information and tracing them to see where they lead. At this point, I feel like I’ve weaved a magical spider web. In case you’re wondering if that’s a hint, let me say now that there are no spiders in my book. At least, not at the moment. Tracing all of the strands of interesting details led me down roads I never thought I’d go down. My characters and plot are becoming so complex and exciting because I don’t overlook a single thing. Research is like a scavenger hunt, and every time I stumble upon something that blows my mind and fits the story, I feel like I hit the lottery. I’m looking forward to finding more gems as I continue my research.

The Moments When Story Elements Fit Perfectly

Third time’s a charm! Okay, I know that’s a total cliché, but I’ve never believed that more than I do with this third book. The amount of times I had to pause for a moment, just to let my brain stop exploding, is honestly baffling to me. Initially, my story didn’t have magic or mythology in it, but when I started doing research, the types of magic and gods and goddesses that interested me naturally fit my story. When I say I didn’t have to force a single thing, I mean it. The way this story has fallen into place has left me floored. I’m definitely considering this a sign for me to write this book. I’m seriously buzzing with anticipation.

I learned from my songwriting to never force a song if it isn’t working. The same can be said for writing novels as well. Still, when a song flows and unfolds effortlessly, I know I have something special. That’s the way I’m feeling now with this new book. My mind is blown by the way things are coming together, and honestly, I’m not even driving myself nuts with overthinking, which is a first for me. I always overthink everything. Not with this book, though. Knowing I have a special idea in my mind makes me so happy, and I’m counting down the days until November 1. No matter how badly I want to start writing now, I want to do NaNoWriMo the right way. I only have a little over a month to wait. During that time, I’ll keep researching and ironing out the tiny details of the story.

Growing as a Writer

This new project and my love for research reflects my growth as a writer. With something creative, like writing a book, it’s easy to stay in my comfort zone and write what I know best. I’ll always love mysteries and thrillers, but I’ve recently started to enjoy fantasy books a great deal. There are thrillers out there with speculative and magical elements, and there are fantasy novels with mystery and thriller plots. At the moment, I don’t know if my book will lean more to YA Speculative Thriller or YA Fantasy. I want to follow my heart and the inspiration and see how the story unfolds. Once I have a first draft, I’ll nail down how the book will be pitched and make revisions accordingly.

I never thought I’d explore magical elements and mythology when I started writing. Now, the thought of weaving them in makes me extremely excited. I’ve always had a big imagination, so for the first time, I’ll be more inventive with my writing through using fantastical flavors and fresh perspectives.

Also, stepping out of my comfort zone means including more diversity in my next project. I haven’t even written my characters yet, but the fact that I have diverse representation makes me smile. My research has branched out into learning as much as possible about my characters and their realities. Capturing diversity authentically and respectfully is important to me, and my cast of characters and their stories is already inspiring me.

Growth is a never-ending journey. I’ve learned so much since beginning my first book in the summer of 2019. My research for this new book and my inclination to explore the world beyond the one I know show my growth as a writer and a person. I can only imagine how I’ll continue to evolve in the years to come.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

November will be here before I know it. I’ve always wanted to do NaNoWriMo, and this will be the year I do so for the first time. My goal is to write the full first draft of the book during November. Despite music releases that month and traveling for Thanksgiving—and probably other things I won’t be able to resist tossing on my overflowing plate—I believe I’ll be able to write the whole book. 

From now until November 1, I’m going to keep researching and get my story as solid as possible. With my first two manuscripts, I did plotting in advance, but in order to write a full draft in a month, I have to have a much more detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. This outline, along with all my notes from research, will help me stay focused and allow me to write quickly and efficiently. NaNoWriMo is a challenge that I’m up for, and I feel confident and excited. I can’t wait to see this story come to life.

Researching for my new book has sparked my love for writing again. I’m grateful for my craft, and I’ve restored belief in myself as a writer. I’m counting down the days until November 1 because this story is bursting to come to life on the page.

If you’d like to read more about my author journey, click here and enjoy my bookish blogs.