Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stumbling Over Research

Some Research is
Better Done in Person
Driving in the fast lane of writing is such a great experience. Barreling down the story/road, weaving in and out of complex character alleys, taking a subplot/detour to enjoy the scenery all make the writing journey enjoyable. But what happens when the story/car runs out of ideas/gas, or worse, slams into a brick wall?

I slam into that wall, otherwise known as research, quite often. Hey, let's have the heroine move to Ireland, and then to the world of the fairies! Okay, what's it like in these places? How do people dress, eat, speak? You get the idea. The writer/driver has to stop every so often and pull out the research/road map or the World Wide Web/GPS.

Don't get me wrong, I love doing research. Reading about new places and customs, folklore and mythology, recipes and proverbs is inspiring. More often than not, research solves that other problem of running out of ideas/gas. To me, it's a necessary stumbling block for any writer who wants to get the facts straight, even if only to change them to build his or her own world. With any luck, the driver/writer will reach the end of the journey sighing with relief, tale finished, new trails blazed, and vehicle/book ready to take on passengers/readers ready to share the adventure.

7 comments:

Roseanne Dowell said...

Oh if only we could do some of that research in person. It's amazing how many stumbling blocks there are in writing.

Penny Ehrenkranz said...

Pat, thanks for sharing your stumbling block with research. I think I agree with Roseanne...why can't we do our research in person. I'd love to take a trip to the British Isles. Sigh...

Pat McDermott said...

Ladies, I have been fortunate enough to visit Ireland a few times, though not primarily for research. Still, the place does inspire a writer's imagination. Thanks for your comments!

Kay Dee Royal said...

Hi Pat,
Yes, research. I agree with you that it's interesting, even fun and new ideas can come from it. When I'm moving along in my writing and come to a place needing more research - I mark it (notes, use blue ink, whatever it takes in the places it will matter) and keep writing until I run out of steam. Then I'll go do the research necessaary and fill in my blanks. Sometimes I can do this without it stopping me completely.

Pat McDermott said...

Good idea, Kay Dee. I sometimes do it in reverse, read the research first and make notes of the pages I think I'll use. Then, when I'm writing, I can find the reference I need right away. Thanks for sharing what works for you!

Wendy said...

Having to visit the setting to overcome a stumbling block is great fun but too expensive for me, so I've decided to keep my settings closer to home in the future. I've been to Ireland too. Loved it.

Pat McDermott said...

Wendy, I've found the internet and travel essays a great help in describing foreign locales. I suspect few authors travel simply to describe a scene. It's taking our readers on a trip that's the challenge, and close to home for an author is often an exotic location for readers. Would love to hear where you went in Ireland. Thanks so much for commenting!