One of the best aspects about being a writer is the research. I love research! Research encompasses many elements of story-making, from creating the story idea to the setting to character sketches, and all the elements needed to make that story believable, as well as the business-side of writing.
Some of the best ideas I get are from doing research. I'm an avid reader and I read anything. Sometimes in just reading about a certain event in history, my mind begins the 'what if' scenarios that my characters might encounter. My interest in history spans from present-day settings to those stories set in ancient times. I read history books and watch documentaries. When I read novels, I write down pieces of the historical information I find and do further research on that. I often watch movies or television shows for inspiration, and to get a feel for the way the characters of a certain time-period spoke the language, and dressed, and interacted. I then take what I learned from the film and do more reading to find out if what I saw really happened.
Creating characters is a truly fun part of writing, but to make the characters come alive on the page, I really have to understand them and why they do or say the things they do. Motivation is a very big element in creating characters and I have to understand their background and history. How did they grow up? Where? When? What happened to them when they were children? How did they learn the things they did? Psychology and how the brain works intrigues me and I use the information I find to create my characters. I also read many books on relationships and the differences between men and women.
Reading and watching television isn't the only kind of research available. Traveling is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to research! I love to travel almost as much as I love to read! I can take anything I see in my daily life and use that in a story. Or, when I'm on vacation, I can visit a particular location that I might possibly use as a setting in a future novel. My camera is my best friend on those expeditions and I take as many pictures as possible to record the images so I can look back for sudden inspiration. And when my finances don't agree with my exotic overseas vacation plans, well then, travel guides are a good source to use.
As well as researching for the story itself, a writer must research for the business-side of writing. The internet is a fantastic tool to use for researching the writing industry and the different publishing houses. Simply typing 'calls for submissions' in a search engine can bring forth possible writing opportunities. Also, it's vital for a writer to research writer's guidelines if they're thinking of submitting a manuscript to an editor. I also read a lot of articles on the internet about writing, such as grammar and editing. There are also a lot of workshops many authors now provide to help a writer in any given stage of their career. This is all considered research, as well.
And then, sometimes I consider research just giving myself the excuse to read something when I really should be doing something else. Should I read that paranormal romance or wash the dishes? Well, I need to research the romance market. Ya know, see what's selling nowadays. It's very important for my business....