Research Skills for Fiction Writers

Research Skills for Fiction Writers

When: September 4 – 27, 2020
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $300

Writing great fiction often requires research–sometimes a ton of it!–which some authors find intimidating. 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 effective research skills.

Research isn’t just for the scholarly, nor does it have to be a never-ending slog. It can be an engaging and exciting process! Plus, it makes for better stories. If you’ve never formally been taught how to research or want help getting started, this class is for you.

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
  • Navigating libraries and resources
  • Getting help from librarians
  • Finding and evaluating journal sources
  • Online research techniques and pitfalls
  • Synthesizing information
  • Identifying reliable sources
  • Synthesizing information
  • Historical and cultural research sans colonialist frameworks
  • and more.

Writers will leave this course confident in their understanding of research techniques and 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. Most lectures are text; required videos have closed captions and/or 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.

Full and Partial Scholarship Opportunities

Thanks to the generosity of donors to our COVID-19 fundraiser and the continued support of our Patreon backers we are offering 30 full and partial Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarships for this class. (If you’d like to contribute, you can donate here.)

If you do not have the financial means to pay for all or part of the registration cost for this class, we encourage you to apply.  We have a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who do not have the money at all to writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class. We especially encourage writers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply. Wherever you exist on the financial needs spectrum, don’t self reject! (Still not sure whether you should apply? Read this post.)

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the registration fee, please apply for a partial scholarship. Under this financial aid plan you can let us know the amount you can afford. If you cannot afford to pay at all, please apply for a full scholarship. 

To apply, please fill out this form by 11:59PM Pacific August 15, 2020. You’ll be asked to provide:

  • 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 August 15, 2020. We will notify all applicants of their standing by August 22. 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 August 4, 2020, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by August 11, 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 August 25, 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 August 26 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 Gift Card, discount, or code to access tickets, please click the “Enter promo code” link in the Registration box below before you begin the process.  

Having trouble with the box below? Go to the Eventbrite page and register from there.