This research part may seem daunting but I found it so interesting! Beware though, it's super easy to chase a rabbit down the hole and find three hours later you are knee deep in nothing that relates to what your story is about.
Here are three areas that you definitely don't want to skimp out on the research.
Main Characters (often referred to as MC):
Your MC names- It's probably not a good thing if your heroine's name is the same as a villian in a horror movie. Just google search the name your thinking of, cross your fingers, and see what pops up. If your book is from a certain time period find out what names were popular for that era.
Your MC occupation- My main character was a meteorologist. I didn't really know a whole lot about the field, so I reached out to a local meteorologist and they answered a few questions for me. I also searched job listings of other character occupations to see what was required of their fields.
What is the calendar year of your story? You can look up past calendars to see what exact days were.
What are the current events going around then? One resource I found helpful was newspapers.com You can clip and save articles from the time period to sprinkle in your story for authenticity. If you are writing fantasy this is something you should think about for the world you are creating.
What language or expressions are used?
What customs and behaviors are indicative of the time period?
What is the name of the city/town your story takes place?
What are native animal/plants in the region?
Is it a location you could possibly visit in the name of research? (Yes, I made my husband drive somewhere for a possible location for A Wisp of Faith. Road Trip!)
This is what works best for you. I kept everything on google drive where I could easily access from my phone and work on it wherever--like while waiting for my kids at karate practice!)
Some authors use notecards, bulletin boards or journal. Some use writing programs like Scrivener. Scrivener has a 30 day free trial download if you are interested in trying it. I'm taking a look at and will update you with my thoughts in a later blog post.
Something I discovered after I had already written my book was mood boards. This was a fun way to visualize my book and I think I will use in preparation for my next book. This is one I created for A Wisp of Faith.
Research can be overwhelming and there were times all through my writing where I had to check facts and research again. And I'm sure I probably still missed something somewhere. Take deep breaths and keep going! The stronger foundation you build the stronger your first draft will be.