Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Researching The Facts, #MFRWauthor


The odd thing about researching the facts for your stories is there's either too much or too little. I've been a victim of both. The trick is to do just enough. That can be hard, very hard. First let's talk about too much.

You're writing a story that needs the facts to make the story seem to have occurred in the world you've created and you set out to do the research to dig up some facts to let the world know you understand what you're writing. The journey begins and one fact leads to another and you become so involved in finding those facts that you forget the story. This has happened to me. I have shelves of research books from the days before the internet that I've used and still use when I'm working. While working on All Our Yesterdays, I was writing about a number of cultures and spend hour after hour in the college library. One fact led to another and another. I must have spend months digging out facts. Somewhere along the road, the research became more important than the story. One day, I decided enough is enough. I began writing and suddenly all those things I had discovered found their way into the story. Instead of fiction to be enjoyed what I wrote sounded like a research paper. The problem was too much research.

At the other end of the spectrum comes too little research. I've been guilty of this as well. As a nurse, I knew a bit about medical issues and set out to write a medical romance. Finished the book and sat down to read what I'd written and found this sounded more like a fantasy than a contemporary story set in the real world. The reason was clear. I'd glossed over those bits that made the story seem real so I had to go back and find the facts I needed for the story. What does an ICU look like? What are the symptoms of a particular disease? All these things were needed to be there in bits and pieces to make the story seem real.

So we come to doing just enough. I've found a way that works most of the time. At least for me. I barrel ahead with the rough draft and anytime I need some fact I write, "Look up salukis" or "choreograph a fight scene" or "love scene goes here." This doesn't work all the time because sometimes finding one of the books I need to use for research or hitting sites on the internet provide me with facts I need to use lead me to read just one more bit.

What about you? Do you do too much research and forget the story or do you end up with too little and find the story doesn't ring true?

1 comment:

Rose Gorham said...

As always, I enjoy reading your blogs, Janet. keep them coming!