Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Do Your Research!


Research ~ Research ~ Research


Research is what you are going to do when you stumble upon something of interest in your story. By interest I mean something disputable.

Let’s say your character is a doctor. You will need to do research in the field of medicine if you plan on using any of the terminology that doctor’s use. Maybe your character is a florist, you may want to look up the different species of flowers so you can name them in your work like a pro.

This is the basis of doing research. You’ll sound (read) educated in the field or at least your character will come off as a wonder of knowledge. If you’re a car repair person and your character is a chef, he can not test the throttle of his whipped up eggs. He is going to have to speak like a real chef so that your character comes alive to the reader.

Now research is not only used in the creation or broadening of a character, research may be used in eras. To write about the eighteenth century you will need to delve into the world of pioneers. Travel on horseback and always use the right lighting and tools for that era. Technological terms will not be found in this piece of writing.

Maybe it’s music that you need to research. If you plan on using songs from a certain period of time research the music and make sure you have the copyright laws researched before using ANY works.

I sometimes even research what styles of houses in cities and suburbs have, all the way down to names of counties that are in the area. Stephen King likes to make fictional towns around his home state of Maine. With a fictional town you get the freedom of naming streets and having anyone inhabit the land that you deem fit.

As I write this blog, I’m always seeking information to give you as I dig into this "info highway." There is an infinite amount of material to sift through here on the web. When I can’t find it here on the net, I go to the library and dig through books or micro-film.

Research can be as much work as writing itself. But rest assured it pays off in the end because your work comes off as polished and well structured. And we thought our homework days were over? Think again! If you’re a writer, your homework has only just begun.

Now keep in mind that you’re NOT writing a research paper, you are digging for authenticity. If your writing comes off as TOO MUCH research and not enough fiction, you will wind up with a piece of work that reads like a Kleenex left out in the rain. Wet, soggy, and very loosely based.

As much as I like to tell fellow writer’s to Write! Write! Write! It is just as important to

Research! Research! Research!

4 comments:

Raven said...

And this advice is so true. I'm finding out that a fictional town based loosely upon a real town is the best way to go. Nobody's feelings get hurt. Research has to be perfectly balanced so as not to over do the details but also not annoy one of the readers who may happen to live in that region.
Great subject, Joni

Raven

joni said...

And can you imagine a book wrought with so much research, that you lose the whole plot and begin going off down a desert road never to bring your story to life.

Balance! Perfect!

or perfect balance. :-)

Thanks for visiting Raven!
I know I know, you're waiting for poetry Sunday! lol ;-)

Joni

benning said...

Since research often begins with reading, I enjoy doing the research. Sometimes, though, it can involve travel, which is fine if you have the money to afford it. Otherwise it becomes problematic.

Right now, though I could use some travel to cement certain things in one of my works, I can no longer afford to budge. Problematic, Toots!

Do your research, Writers!

joni said...

Ben,
Try google earth. It can take you places you only dreamed!

It might help in the layout of a town or country. You get a bird's eye view!

Now if its an era or decade you need to do research on...I guess the internet is the only place for that.

Joni