National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo logoNaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner! Do you have an idea for a novel? People all around the world use the month of November to try and write their novels (or at least a 50,000 word first draft). Your library has plenty to offer aspiring writers - a quiet place to write, public computers, and plenty of outlets for your laptop. But for many writers, one of the greatest parts of writing is researching. The library has a ton of databases to help you research your novel, whatever it may be about.

Use the Databases

First: how do you find and use the databases discussed below? Simply visit the website and click on the Research tab. You can access most of these databases both on library computers and at home, although some may ask you to log in.


Are you writing historical fiction? Check out Biography In Context for information about historical figures your main character may have run into or lived alongside. If you're writing a romance featuring a maid in Marie Antoinette's court, you'll want all the details of Marie's time as Queen. If your novel is set in the medieval era, check out the Middle Ages Reference Library to find tons of information about Europe and Asia in the Middle Ages. Maybe you want to know how Richard I felt about being king. The article on him tells you that he once said, "I am born of a rank which recognizes no superior but God," while awaiting the English people to pay his ransom, so it's safe to say he was pretty pleased with his position.

Attention to Detail: FASHION

If your novel is set in any era other than our own, you'll definitely want some information about the clothes your characters wear, so check out the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, which goes into detail about the clothing trends throughout time. What exactly is a doublet? What colors of dye did the English have access to in the 1700s? All this and more can be found in the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion.

Writing about Science, Law, and the Wild

Is your character a doctor? Is she ill? Is he disabled? Get all the facts with the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. If your character is a lawyer, or in some legal trouble, there's an online encyclopedia for that, too! The West's Encyclopedia of Law covers thousands of law topics. And if you're writing about a vet, a lizard, or setting your story in the wilds of the Amazon, where wildlife prowls, use Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia.

Fact Finding About Culture and tradition

Maybe you want to write about a character that has a different cultural heritage than you, or observes different traditions. What is the Navajo word for medicine man? When did the Burmese people begin to immigrate to the U.S? The Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America covers holidays, customs, and settlement patterns of a variety of American cultures. You can also use American Fact Finder to see census data about what households are like across the U.S.

Style Guides For Writing

Finally: when you're ready to edit (don't think about it now! Wait until December!), there are many books available on grammar and style. Some of the best: The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (yes, the author of Charlotte's Web) for grammar and style, and On Writing, by Stephen King, for the essence of good writing. And if you want to keep track of your writing progress, or learn more about NaNoWriMo, just go to for more.


Author Bio:

Chelsey needs a database for mythical beasts. Does anybody know one?

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