The Joy of Research

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by Kimberley Woodhouse


It’s a chore to some people and a delight to others. I happen to fall into the latter camp although I must admit that sometimes I get so sucked into it that I lose track of time. Or get obsessed with something that leads me to another fascinating tidbit that leads to an incredible fact that leads to… well, you get the point.

I just returned from the RWA national conference in Denver where I had the privilege to attend some great workshops and to teach a workshop as well. What’s interesting is that I’ve had several people email me about research even though my workshop wasn’t on that topic. Go figure. Since I’m currently writing three to five books a year, I spend a good deal of my time on research so you can imagine that I love to talk about it.

The thing about research is that you need to do it well. I use the rule historians use—I always try to find three sources that all say the same thing. And sometimes that can be daunting. (Especially if you are writing about a significant historical event from a time period that is before things were documented like they are today. For instance, I wrote about the Mayflower and her voyage in The Mayflower Bride and it was brutal digging up sources from that time period.)

Online research is a beautiful and wonderful thing but beware of inaccurate sources. The same holds true for books on your topic/event as well. Remember it was written by a person, and people make mistakes or let their own opinions color their perspective. Other than the Bible, you won’t find a truly-one-hundred-percent-accurate source on any topic. That’s why the rule of three is so vital. But don’t let that get you down, it can be done.

Research is important no matter what genre you write because frankly, you can’t make up everything and make it believable. Your readers will know if you haven’t done your homework. So it’s best to do it well.

Then there’s the wonderful truth that research can also be extremely entertaining and enlightening. Honestly, I can say that it brings me joy.

To give you an illustration about that, I want to tell you a little something I discovered while I was doing research for my August 1 release, The Patriot Bride.

Since it’s set in 1774-1776, I had the wonderful opportunity to include a couple of our founding fathers—George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Good ol’ Ben is a fascinating man to study. But I had no idea that the man was as quirky as he really was. Apparently, he liked to take air baths. See, he was ahead of his time really, and realized that people shouldn’t be all cooped up together spreading germs. So his solution? A bit radical, I assure you. The man would sit in front of his first-floor windows—with them wide open to ‘air’ himself out—completely naked.

Yep. One of the most brilliant men of his era spent time utterly unclothed in front of his open windows. Can you imagine what the neighbors thought?

It’s these kinds of fun things you get to learn when you’re doing intense research. But guess what? It’s so worth it. I’ve already had dozens of early reviewers and readers email me about the book and the inclusion of quirky Mr. Franklin. And it makes me smile to be able to pass on something amusing to my readers. Especially when it’s true.

Do your research, do it well, and embrace the joy.

The things you learn doing your research are sometimes stranger than fiction by Kimberley Woodhouse today on #ACFWBlogs. #amwriting Click To Tweet

Kimberley Woodhouse is a best-selling author of more than fifteen books which have earned her many accolades including Christian Retailing’s Top Pick and Publisher’s Weekly starred review. Kim and her incredible husband have two adult children. Connect with Kimberley at:  and  


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