A Writer’s Guide to Research for Fiction

A Writers Guide to Research for Fiction

When: July 12 – 28, 2019
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $200
Register Now

Writing great fiction often requires research. Sometimes a ton of it. Research isn’t just for the scholarly! Nor is it a never-ending slog. It can be an engaging and exciting process–and it makes for better stories.

Whether you’re a writer who creates whole new worlds or futures, a writer who uses historical settings or events, or a writer crafting characters whose identities or cultures are very different from your own, you need to learn this skill. But, if you’ve never formally been taught how to research, you may find it daunting.

In this course, reference librarian Melody Steiner will walk you through the How Tos of research techniques starting with a question you want to answer for your own fiction. The course covers:

  • Information literacy
  • Finding help from libraries and librarians
  • Finding and evaluating journal sources
  • Research on the web: distinguishing fact from fake
  • Synthesizing information
  • Identifying which sources are reliable and which a writer should steer clear of
  • and more.

Writers will leave this course confident in their understanding of research techniques and will be more comfortable navigating the resources available to them. 

Who Should Take This Class?

Writers of all genres — Literary, YA, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Children’s Books, Romance — and all mediums — Prose, Playwriting, Screenwriting, Comics/Graphic Novels, Games — at any point in their career from newbie to professional. This class is designed for writers who’ve had little to no formal training in research techniques.

Course Format and Time Commitment

The class does not have set meeting times. You can access lectures, other class materials, and group discussions at any time from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussions will take place in a private online forum and all class work is done on Google Drive. 

The time commitment each week will depend on your level of participation. The bulk of the class consists of hands-on research exercises based on topics students want to know more about. Discussion threads tend to be wide-ranging, so students should try to check in at least once a day or every other day. You may manage your time as needed based on your own schedule. 


The class takes place in a private WordPress forum with a theme designed for accessibility. We’ll utilize Google Drive and Google Groups. All of these services are accessible to students using screen readers. Class lectures are available as closed captioned videos with transcripts.

If you have questions about potential needs, or if there are any other ways we can make a class accessible for you, please contact us before registering and we’ll answer within 24 hours.

Other than a computer, the only other technical requirement for the class is a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free one just for this class.

Available Spots, Sliding Scale Payments, and Scholarship Opportunities

There are 35 spots available for open enrollment. If the class sells out there will be a waiting list. Add yourself to it as there are often students who have to drop.

We have two options for writers who wish to take the class but need financial aid or flexibility.

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the class, we have 5 spots reserved for Sliding Scale enrollment. Under this plan you can pay whatever amount you can afford, but we do request that you pay at least $50. To register, please email writingtheother+pwyca@gmail.com with the amount that you can afford (you may also split this into two or more payments). 

There are 10 spots reserved for writers needing a Sentient Squid Scholarship. If you cannot afford the class and feel that you will benefit from it, we encourage you to apply. We have a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class to writers who do not have the money at all. Please don’t hesitate to apply wherever you exist on that spectrum and please don’t self-reject!

To apply, send an email to writingtheother+squid@gmail.com with the subject WtO Research Class Scholarship Applicant, and include in the body:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) description of a work or works in progress that you hope the class will help you research.
  • If you identify as a Person of Color, Native American, or First Nations, you may indicate that if you wish, though it’s not a requirement. (We set aside some scholarship spots specifically for students who identify as POC or Native, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to POC or Native applicants.)

Deadline: 11:59PM Pacific June 23, 2019. We will notify all applicants of their standing by June 28. If you have any questions, please use our contact form to ask!

Refund Policy

If you find that you need to drop the class, you may do so by contacting our GMail or emailing via the website.

If you drop by June 14, 2019, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by June 28, you will receive an 80% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop by July 4, you will receive an 40% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop on July 5 or after you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you will be able to enroll in a future class for a discount.

Register Below

If you have a discount or code to access tickets, please click “Enter Promotional Code” in the box below before you begin the registration process. 

If the class sells out completely there will be a waiting list option available. Add yourself to it as there are often students who have to drop.