Okay, so you have read 1502 ‘how to’ books on writing. All of them say the same thing and you still don’t get it. Everyone has an easy, fast, economical way to become the next best seller.

Didn’t work, did it?

I understand, I really do. I have read those same books, too. But, I found one thing they missed. Every one of them missed the most important thing about writing a book, and I am here to tell you about it, so pay attention.


You heard me. Research. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book telling the non-fiction story of my father’s side of the family. It wasn’t pretty. My ancestors were real turds, but this is not about them. The book has gone on to receive several awards, and most recently the 2015 INTERNATIONAL GOLD MEDAL for TRUE CRIME from Reader’s Favorite.

Why did it do so well? Research. How can you show your reader the 1850’s west if you don’t know about it? What did the people wear? How did they talk? What were their biggest fears? These are all important. In my opinion, they are more important than a misspelled word. That word is easily fixed, but lack of research will ruin your book.

For my book, I researched the farms in the county, as well as the people. How could I write the story of a sheriff in 1868, if I didn’t know his name, whether he had a wife or children? Did he like his job? How long had he been sheriff? Was he a novice or a seasoned law officer? If you are writing about real people, you have to know these things. This isn’t an option, it is mandatory.

I researched the neighbors. Who were they? What was their religion? How many children did they have and what were their names? How long did it take them to make it to town in a carriage?

Get my drift?  My book would never have received dozens of 5-star reviews and all those awards if I had not done the proper research.

Even if you are writing fiction, you have to make your characters real.

If it is modern day, what city are they in? What streets do they travel? Is it easy to find a restaurant or do they have to drive 30 minutes to get there? What are their occupations? How do they spend their day in their chosen work? If your character is a doctor, what kind of doctor is he? Your choices are endless!

If your main character is a veterinarian, how does he help a sick goat? You don’t know? You should because he does. Somewhere in your story, you have to show him performing his/her work. How do you do that? Research.

The internet offers hundreds of sites that will give you the information you need. Because so many people asked me how I did it, I put together a book to help writers with their research, so they don’t have to spend hours finding the right site.

So when you write your next book, or want to rewrite your current manuscript, do your research; or you will have a book that will gather poor reviews, and never sell another copy.

Get back to work and keep writing.

Donalie Beltran

Bio-TrueCrime, 2015 GOLD MEDAL