Hello wordsmiths. I would like to talk to you about research. Research will help you with details that normally are forgotten and can also change the focus of your story. Too much research will bog down your story and it will be forever lost beneath hours of exhaustive notes.
We covered knowing your history, but this is different. If you are writing a military novel set between Korea and Vietnam, there are things you need to know: the hierarchy of rank, the weapons used and the different branches of the military things of that sort. Choosing to neglect this will alienate a group of readers, specifically those who know these facts. I am not a military man and most likely know as much as the standard public, but a good writer would do the necessary research to make sure that their words were at least accurate. You would not need to necessarily know a specific base or high ranking official within the Pentagon at the time (unless they were playing a part in your story). So you should know your facts to make sure you have your language correct.
Depending on your story, you should also go back into myth and see what other cultures say about specific monsters, or fairy tales. This may give you a new insight into characters or direction for the story. For instance, most things that are staples of werewolf stories were actually invented by Hollywood (the Wolf Man specifically), every culture also has a vampire type entity and different ways of dispatching them. Most cultures have their own myths and legends and some are similar to our and others are vastly different. If you want to write a fantasy or horror story, you should definitely look across cultures for help. You can draw inspiration from these to provide you with something different from everyone else or give you a different direction to take your story. It never hurts to research the mythical origins of your creatures.
So remember research is a double edged sword depending on the story it is needed but the amount needed is determined by the story being told. So be sure you don’t bog yourself down in research to the point that you won’t write the story. Research with an open mind and look for ways that your research can improve and influence the story. Whether it helps you correct minor facts or changes the entire origin of a character, research when it’s done right is the perfect spice to add to the recipe of writing.