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Celia Cyanide
12-16-2006, 04:14 AM
Have you ever had an idea you were sincerely interested in persuing, but you were unable due to the copious ammounts of research required? Please comment. I am restricted to five sentences per post. I am also not allowed to relate personal experience. However, I find myself with nothing more to add. How does research effect your writing?

aadams73
12-16-2006, 04:20 AM
I think it was Uncle Jim who suggested buying the kids' book on your given subject, and work your way up from there. While I'm writing I add notes for myself like, "research here." and incorporate it later in the evenings when I'm not officially "writing." But no, I don't sit down and read massive tomes on any one subject.

ETA: if you can find them for your subjects, those "Idiots" and "Dummies" books are great for learning the basics.

WackAMole
12-16-2006, 04:24 AM
I've begged my way into autopsies ...cornered policemen...and made wacky phone calls to people who were in fields related to what i wanted info about.

I find that most people LOVE to talk about what they do!

The autopsy was a tough one and i got WAAAAY more than I bargained for. I actually got to suit up and hold this loggers head while the pathologist took pics..did i mention he died because he was struck in the head with a tree?

Reason for the autopsy: the state wanted to make sure negligence wasnt to blame for his death AND rule out that he had not died of a heart attack, which could explain why a seasoned logger was hanging out under a falling tree.

Oh yeah, and I got to help them extend all his limbs to break the rigor.

By the time I was done, I was pretty well nauseated...but I got some good info!

PeeDee
12-16-2006, 04:29 AM
I have a huge book on ancient Rome which will require the sort of research that people normally put into getting a degree in the subject. I am deeply intimidated by it all. Mostly, what this means is that I'm waiting to write the novel and working on other things. In the meantime, I'm reading about the subject, which is no great imposition because I love the subject anyway.

greglondon
12-16-2006, 04:38 AM
Have you ever had an idea you were sincerely interested in persuing, but you were unable due to the copious ammounts of research required? Please comment. I am restricted to five sentences per post. I am also not allowed to relate personal experience. However, I find myself with nothing more to add. How does research effect your writing?

That was six sentences.

;)

greglondon
12-16-2006, 04:40 AM
I thought about doing a historical fiction story once, but figured even then the amount of research to get it "right" even in the "wrong" way would be too much.

So, I'm back to science fiction and fantasy.

You still aren't allowed to get horses or guns wrong there, though.

AnnieColleen
12-16-2006, 04:46 AM
Right now I'm ignoring research except as immediately needed (alternate history novel). I've done enough to get me started; I'll continue probably when I've got a first draft done -- I don't know until I get there.

If I waited until I had the research done or mostly done to start, I'd never have started. I'll let you know how it works once I find out.

Gary
12-16-2006, 05:24 AM
I enjoyed the research as much as I did putting the words on paper, and was blown away by the things you can find with a little bit of effort.

Perhaps my most amazing find was the DJ who hosted the all night shift on radio station KIMN on a certain day in 1959. I wrote him an e-mail asking for info and he was thrilled to help.

JeanneTGC
12-16-2006, 05:40 AM
One of my novel series is set in the Old West. I have become a pretty good authority on the time period from about 1860 through 1890. I have two or three shelves of books in my office all relating to this time period in some way. I scour the web and state parks for old maps. I will drop everything if someone says, "Found this new source about 1878 that you might not have heard of." (BTW, yes, I know the Old West period is considered to officially start at the end of the Civil War; but in order to know what affected what and why, I also have to know about the Civil War. History buffs, do not attack :D .)

This, btw, started out as a HOBBY. The writing, not the collecting of books about the Old West.

My biggest challenge after that was to write in settings OTHER than the Old West. My first speculative fiction was still set in the Old West because, boy, I KNEW it.

I've expanded past then, thankfully. But, all the research has brought me to the point where I can't watch certain movies or certain parts of movies because their depiction of the period or a known person in it is so WRONG that I spend all my time going, "He was TWENTY-THREE in the year this is set and they are depicting him as a GEEZER!" I'm a joy to watch a Western with now.

Research: social life ruination or fun-filled small-talk provider? Discuss...

Tiger
12-16-2006, 07:45 AM
I have.

I work two jobs--seven days a week, usually--and I recently bought several enormous tomes covering topics such as ancient European weaponry, medieval Japanese and Chinese weaponry, siege warfare and metalworking.

I dropped the whole pile on my desk when I got home, thought about how I had to be off to the office again in ten hours, and asked myself what the hell do you think you're doing...

Simon Woodhouse
12-16-2006, 10:24 AM
I always baulked at the idea of doing research, which is one of the reasons I started writing sci-fi. Instead of having to research stuff, I make it up.

I would like to write something set in a time frame equivalent to mid 19th century Europe, but have the story take place in a fictitious realm. I've started reading up on the era, however, it's going to be a while before I feel confident enough to even start on an outline.

Kentuk
12-16-2006, 10:42 AM
Celia, you must have a whopper of an idea. Tell us about it. Perhaps we can help.

greatfish
12-16-2006, 01:22 PM
I had the chance to see a reading by an author named Glen David Gold who wrote a bestseller called Carter Beats the Devil. I remember someone asked him about writing the novel, and he said the majority of the work, I think he said around 2 years worth, was research in archives. It sounds like a lot of work, but it payed off for him. Last I read he was preparing to publish his second novel and was in talks to have his first novel turned into a movie.

Scarlett_156
12-16-2006, 01:29 PM
If she wants to know about something, she goes and does it. We sometimes disapprove, but she just does it anyway.

Willowmound
12-16-2006, 01:34 PM
I love research. Sometimes it feels as if I'm writing just to have something to do with all the facts I'm stuffing myself with.

It's not so, of course, but sometimes it feels like it.

I only ever manage to write for four or five hours tops. But I can spend a whole day at research -- 16 hours, no problem.

I like ordering obscure medieval texts from Amazon. It's like Christmas every time one arrives.

Celia Cyanide
12-16-2006, 08:54 PM
Celia, you must have a whopper of an idea. Tell us about it. Perhaps we can help.

May I be allowed to get back to you at the end of my probabation? I will be able to write about personal experience at that time. Until then I shall be sticking to the hypothetical. I hope this is will be a sufficient explanation for the time being. I hope you will still be interested in the weeks to come.

Kentuk
12-16-2006, 09:53 PM
May I be allowed to get back to you at the end of my probabation? I will be able to write about personal experience at that time. Until then I shall be sticking to the hypothetical. I hope this is will be a sufficient explanation for the time being. I hope you will still be interested in the weeks to come.

No! Do it now. Make Mac happy.

Glad I missed signing up would hate to see what I'd have to do.

I didn't want to make my point without knowing what you meant by research but research is details. The big idea is drawn from your own experience, or subliminated research. It needs to be thought out and supported but not researched to death.

Please tell us more.

inanna
12-19-2006, 05:33 AM
I love research, but I'm an adept procrastinator, and research is the way to go if you're looking not to write. However, I sometimes get the greatest "light bulb" ideas for my characters and plot while researching. So I think the time spent is worthwhile in the end.

janetbellinger
12-19-2006, 05:42 AM
I'm terrified about writing something that might later prove to have no basis in fact. I based my first novel, Teacher on the Run in Japan because I had the erroneous idea that it would be slacking if I situated it in a country I'd visited. I did lots of research for it but I relied too much on the Internet which led me to having the kids going to school on Saturday morning. I have since learned from my Japanese student that Japan recently quit having Saturday morning classes. Much embarrassment on my part. I'll never again write about a county I haven't actually visited, even though I love researching different countries, which makes me feel as though I've travelled there.

Willowmound
12-19-2006, 06:48 AM
I'll never again write about a county I haven't actually visited

Yeah, that's usually a very bad idea. I've made a rule never to write about places I haven't been to.

One thing is all the stuff you might get wrong -- but even more important, to me, is all the stuff you might miss out on, that could have been just perfect to include.

...And when a reader comes along who's actually been there...

Meerkat
12-19-2006, 07:04 PM
This might be out of left field, but it might be the case that if you perform too much research, you might regurgitate a host of information that is already out there, not new. If you perform just enough research to ensure realism (or as close as any human can approach realism), then the content of your story or message will be more rightfully prevalent. Just my two cents..

Sassenach
12-19-2006, 08:59 PM
I'm terrified about writing something that might later prove to have no basis in fact. I based my first novel, Teacher on the Run in Japan because I had the erroneous idea that it would be slacking if I situated it in a country I'd visited. I did lots of research for it but I relied too much on the Internet which led me to having the kids going to school on Saturday morning. I have since learned from my Japanese student that Japan recently quit having Saturday morning classes. Much embarrassment on my part. I'll never again write about a county I haven't actually visited, even though I love researching different countries, which makes me feel as though I've travelled there.


Diana Gabaldon wrote OUTLANDER before she'd ever visited Scotland, and it became a phenomenal success. There were a couple of little mistakes inside, but I don't think readers care.

I don't think your mistake is especially horrible, nor do you need to be embarrassed.

janetbellinger
12-19-2006, 09:13 PM
Wow, that really makes me feel better, Sassenach. Thanks. Now I can go ahead and let my main character go to Bosnia during the Civil War.

Willowmound
12-20-2006, 09:24 AM
There were a couple of little mistakes inside, but I don't think readers care.

Never assume readers don't care. I care. I'm a reader. You stuff up, I don't read you again. Also, I tell my friends.

Sassenach
12-20-2006, 08:24 PM
I didn't "assume" anything. I think that a few minor errors in a big historical novel can happen, and if the book is otherwise good, I don't care.

inanna
12-20-2006, 08:51 PM
Never assume readers don't care. I care. I'm a reader. You stuff up, I don't read you again. Also, I tell my friends.

Willowmound, I'm curious (sincerely): what exactly is it about these kind of mistakes that gets you upset enough to completely write off an author and tell all your friends? I've run across warnings about research errors before, so I'm not saying your take on it is unusual.

It's just that I'm one of those readers who can shrug off a few minor errors if I like the writing (more importantly, I'm also a writer who requires a lot of research for her WIP). So I'm simply wanting to understand readers such as yourself, and if you could expand for me, I would greatly appreciate it :)

greglondon
12-20-2006, 09:43 PM
It's just that I'm one of those readers who can shrug off a few minor errors if I like the writing

Looking at the best seller lists, I think its safe to say that a few minor errors isn't going to stop a lot of readers. You can't please everyone. The way I look at my writing, not everyone will like it. And I'd rather have the people who do like it, like it because they were engaged in the story making process in their mind while they read it, not because I happened to meet their version of perfection. Life isn't perfect. Stories shouldn't be either.

janetbellinger
12-20-2006, 10:25 PM
Good point. The thing that really holds me is a well crafted and riveting story. Nothing else will do it. It doesn't really matter to me if the author uses "He was an abstract painter," or "He painted random lines on the canvas, like railway ties gone wild." It is the story that will decide whether I'll finish the novel or not.

JeanneTGC
12-22-2006, 12:51 AM
Good point. The thing that really holds me is a well crafted and riveting story. Nothing else will do it. It doesn't really matter to me if the author uses "He was an abstract painter," or "He painted random lines on the canvas, like railway ties gone wild." It is the story that will decide whether I'll finish the novel or not.

And, related to that point, for me, personally, I would rather read (and write) the first option than the second. That doesn't make me a "bad" reader, it means that I prefer a particular style of writing over another. It's just another example to support both Janet and Greg's comments -- write what you want to read, and if you do it it well enough, you will find readers and they will find you.