Researching a Story


To borrow a quote from a fellow writer and friend, David Toft – “Easy reading is damned hard writing.”


Do you love to read? Have you ever thought about the amount of research the writer of your favourite book did to add background to the story? No? Then you should. All books need research. I make use of my own extensive library as well as online sources like the News and Wikipedia, to name but two.

Ah but the story is the main thing I hear you cry. I’m sorry to tell you it is not. Without research the story will remain untold in a void. Obviously it’s important, but it is just one element. On its own it’s going nowhere without believable background information. And the only way to get that is for the writer to do his or her research.


In my latest novella I freely make use of recent specific historical events which happened in the country where the story occurs along with other events in the Middle East, gleaned from the news, like the on-going conflict in Syria and the mindless desecration of the mausoleums of long dead Imams sanctioned by Al Qaida in Sudan. But will readers pick up on these actual facts – probably not.

One character in the story is based on the most notorious figure in Egyptology of recent times – Zahi Hawass, and how he behaved towards the foreign teams he invited, to employ the latest technology in various parts of the Giza Plateau. When they discovered something which did not fit into the accepted way of thinking espoused by Hawass and his colleagues, he had them swiftly removed.


The sad part is that if the writer has done his or her job properly, seamlessly incorporating their research into the storyline, most readers won’t even give it a second thought. And so at the risk of repeating myself, my fellow writer David Toft is perfectly correct when he says that easy reading is damned hard writing.

As readers, you would do well to think about that in the future…

  1. Avatar of Robert Politz
    Robert Politz says

    I agree Jack and also understand the necessity of accurate research.
    It’s a lot of work and I certainly had a hard time doing the research necessary to write ceratin genres, especially romance.

    You’ve made some good points. Kudos.

    1. Avatar of Jack Eason
      Jack Eason says

      As I said RH, sadly I have my doubts whether or not the average reader even gives the amount of research we put into our works, or even cares…

  2. Avatar of Paula Boer
    Paula Boer says

    As it should be, Jack. Readers shouldn’t be able to see the ‘craft’. That’s partly what defines good writing ;-).

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