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"Effective Research Methods for Fiction: How Much Is Enough?" with John Pipkin

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St. Edward's University, Trustee Hall 303
3001 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

4/2/2016 From 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM


$49 for members (log in for member pricing)

$109 for nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Note: Online registration will close at the end of Thursday, March 31. After that you can pay admission at the door with a check for the walk up rate - $59 for members and $119 for nonmembers - as long as seats are available. Thank you!

Whether you are writing historical fiction, science fiction, a murder mystery, a procedural medical thriller, or a simple story about a boy and his dog, chances are that you will have to research your material in order to make sure that your fictional narrative is accurate, authentic, and believable.

Even a contemporary short story set in a familiar location might still require some research to get everything just right. But where do you find the answers you need? How much research is enough? How much is too much? And how do you know when to stop researching and start writing? This class will cover the basics of conducting research for novels and short stories in any genre. We’ll look at strategies for effective researching, how to locate useful source materials, and most importantly we’ll discuss techniques for incorporating facts and details seamlessly into your fiction, so that your story doesn’t sound like an encyclopedia entry. We’ll talk about such different approaches as character-based research, plot-based research, and subject-based research. This half-day class will fall into three parts:

1) Identifying what kind and how much research your story needs.

2) Determining where to go for information, and how to take effective notes.

3) Strategies for incorporating information in your story without overwhelming the story itself.

We will also discuss how successful research can also provide the inspiration and ideas for generating new stories.

About the instructor:

John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, was published to national acclaim by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in April 2009. Woodsburner won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize for First Novel. John was the Dobie Paisano Fellow at UT-Austin for the spring of 2011. His new novel, The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter, will be published by Bloomsbury this coming October. He received his Ph.D. in British Literature from Rice University in 1997. Currently, he is the Writer-in-Residence at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and he teaches in the Low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University, in Louisville, Kentucky.

REGISTRATION BY MAIL: If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click HERE for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it.

NOTE: Tickets are not refundable, but they are transferable. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at or 512-499-8914 and let us know so that we can update the class roster. For policies, please visit our
Classes page.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit