Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Becoming an expert

Finding the old book of essays from writers from my past reading days has been a good and inspiring time. Today I'm reading what Frank Slaughter wrote about becoming an expert. It's really about research and ising what you have learned effectively. Research can be fun and exhausting. The problem, at least for me, is finding how one trail leads to another and not being able to stop searching for some new tidbit. Often getting off track can halt the writing. One of the tricks I've found is to research a specific area in depth and forcing myself to avoid the byways at the expense of writing.

Another problem with doing massive research is the desire to put everything learned into the story. Paragraphs and pages of facts are going to turn a reader off. What one has to do is choose from the pages they've read and taken notes on and selecting one or two facts needed to make the story seem real. When I was writing Obsessions, I drew a plan of the orthopedic storage room and listed every object in it. My initial draft read like a floor plan. Shaking my head, I cut this down to what I needed to bring the story to life. Doing this has taken time.

Writing other books has sent me to the experts in a field and boy do they like to talk. I've had doctors describe step by step a procedure and have had to pull out a fact or two that will make what I'm writing seem real.

What about you, do you tend to find research so interesting that you can't seem to stop and write what you learn? Has your critique partners called you a teacher rather than a writer? There may be no answer to the problem of over-researching, after all writers are curious people. When writing there is an answer, leave out the long passages and concentrate on those few facts that make your story seem real.

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