Let me count the ways…
The WIP leans towards being historical fiction, therefore set in a precise time and place. It requires much in the way of meticulous research – I may want my characters to do such and such, but would they actually have done it, living at that time and in that place? What clothes would they have been wearing, and what would the dust on their shoes smell like? I thought at the outset this need for veracity might prove tedious, as I’d never approached writing a novel in a ‘real world’ setting before, and my experience with historically-inspired short fiction certainly wouldn’t prepare me for the business of researching a full-length book. Don’t get me wrong – writing fantasy novels involves research, but it’s of the cherry-picking kind, where one co-opts the political system of one country and century and marries it with social and religious customs from another and weaves in geographical elements from a third… you get the picture.
Well, I needn’t have worried. The more I sink myself into this type of ‘total’ research, the more fascinating I find it. I go overboard, in fact. I study the geological makeup of certain beaches, the names of local construction companies, processes for making yoghurt and other minutiae, as well as broader political and historical contexts. It’s a blast. In this task the internet is my friend – work that would previously have taken daily trips to the library or even a major fact-finding voyage can now be done from home, with the aid of some enthusiast who has written a web page (or several) on precisely the obscure matter I need to research. Amazing.
Of course, an actual journey with the aim of talking to people, sniffing dust on my shoes and sifting through pebbles on the beach would be the proverbial cherry. But failing that, here on the other side of the planet, I’m very grateful for the obscure-fact-enthusiasts of the world.