S.A. Snow on How to Research Your Story #WriteTip #SciFi #AmWriting @BooksBySnow

Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to Research Your Story Before Writing Your Book

I’m not generally known for doing a lot of research before writing a piece. I tend to do research as I go along. That said, there are few things I researched for this particular novel before I even set pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard.

Once I had decided on a location for the start of the novel, I researched Washington D.C. and found a good place for my spaceship to land. It was incredibly important for it to land in seclusion as well as in the metro area.

Likewise, did you know the United Nations had an Office of Outer Space Affairs? I didn’t! But they do, and I can’t tell you the number of beta readers who thought I had just made that up off the top of my head.

There are reasons for doing research. It sets up the basis for the characters and the plot. And generally, it makes writing easier and faster. There are less bumps in the writing and editing path and the information you’re putting out there is correct and up-to-date. It means that we, as authors, are not just spewing out ignorant information to a less informed world, but are also educating readers. Three other people now know that there is United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs.

It’s important to go to more than one source for your information as well and not just use wikipedia. In college, all my professors told me to never use wikipedia for anything, but it is actually a very good starting point.

For example in using multiple sites, I needed to research a certain thing about Usnavi. You see, Usnavi is a sex-shifting alien, which means Usnavi does not have a sex or gender identity (and yes, there is a difference between a sex identity and a gender identity). In order to make my story reason, to make it believable for those in the community, I had to figure out the pronouns.

I know people who are genderqueer, and I know the pronouns they use. However, they vary. There isn’t set pronouns! Meaning, I had some freedom in my choices for Usnavi. I researched diligently, on multiple sites because they all gave me different answers, and settled on zhe/zher/zhim (it’s because I like that one can see both masculine and feminine in the words). But without research BEFORE writing the character, the character would not be the same. Some of the conversations Jane and Usnavi have would not be the same, and certainly some of the corrections Jane makes for others would not have happened.

Research informs writing. And writing informs research. It’s a give and take in this game of creation.


Jane expected six months undercover to be hard; she expected it to be lonely and bleak. She didn’t expect to find love. 

Jane Butler, a CIA operative, is assigned the task of infiltrating the Xanthians and determining if they’re a threat to humanity. Going undercover as a Xanthian mate, she boards the transport ship and meets Usnavi—her new mate. After spending six days traveling through space, Jane is ecstatic to explore the Xanthian station and soon sets out to complete her mission. The only problem? Usnavi—and the feelings she is quickly developing. 

Fumbling their way through varying sexual expectations, cooking catastrophes, and cultural differences, they soon discover life together is never boring. As Jane and Usnavi careen into a relationship neither of them expected, Jane uncovers dark secrets about the Xanthians and realizes she may no longer be safe. When it becomes clear she’s on her own, Jane is forced to trust and rely on Usnavi. Simultaneously struggling with her mission, her feelings for Usnavi, and homesickness, Jane faces questions she never imagined she would have to answer.

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Genre – Blended Science Fiction, Erotica
Rating – NC17
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