Posted by: nancycurteman | August 18, 2018

3 Research Methods for Novelists

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Research is an essential skill that authors need to master whether they write nonfiction or fiction. There are three basic research methods for novelists, interviews, reading/internet and visiting locations.

In my case, I wanted to add a Muslim female character to one of my stories. I needed to gain an understanding of the customary dress of Muslim women. I will share my research as a way of demonstrating how I used the three research methods.

Interviews. I have a neighbor who is Muslim so I shared my objective with her and asked her the questions I had prepared ahead of time.

Question: Why do Muslim women wear what they wear?
Answer: In the Qur’an, Allah tells believers they should be modest and wear their veils. For many women a hijab is a visible sign of their faith. She added there are other advantages to their mode of dress including not being judged for beauty, being known as a Muslim and comfort in the loose, flowing clothing.

Question: Do women have to wear traditional clothing?
Answer: No. For example, women choose to wear the hijab for many different reasons. Some choose not to wear traditional clothing at all. In some communities men wear traditional clothing.

Question: Do men insist that women wear traditional clothing?
Answer: Absolutely not. The only cases in which women are forced to dress traditionally would be in very conservative communities and countries.

Visit a place. In my case, I couldn’t visit a Muslim country although that would have been ideal. In the country or location, you encounter all the sensory experiences: sights, sounds, smells, touching. The next best thing for me was to watch videos or documentaries about the place on television and on the internet.

Read/Internet. Libraries and the internet are great resources with one caveat: Confirm any information you learn by consulting other sources. I learned valuable information using this research strategy. I gained an understanding of some of the various types of traditional clothing:

Hijab-a veil that consists of one or two scarves that cover the head and neck.

Jihab-a robe or coat that covers the whole body except the head and hands.

Burqa-a full body veil. The wearer’s entire face and body are covered, and she sees through a mesh screen over the eyes.

Niqab-covers the entire body, head and face but an opening is left for the eyes.

Many modern Muslim women choose not to wear traditional clothing although some do. It is their choice.

Using the 3 research methods for novelists, I’ve gathered a lot of information I can use to round out my character.

More Tips:

How to Open a Mystery Novel

Questions to ask before adding details to your Mystery Novel 

6 Ways to Avoid “Information Dumps” in a Mystery Novel

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