Incorporating the Research into Your Story
Ah, now comes the moment of truth. How to cram all this hard won knowledge into your manuscript. In truth, as I mentioned in my last post, it is NOT all going to get into your story.
At this point, depending on whether you are a plotter or pantser, you begin to craft the framework of your action. A plotter will make another plot line, consult the vast ocean of amassed research and choose the juicy bits and pieces which will lift the story out of mediocrity and into a full and rich reading experience. The pantser will start writing and weave the information crammed into their skull into the weft and woof of their tale. Of course, even the most accomplished pantser will need to check the notes to be sure they have the facts correct.
It is so very tempting to stuff every bit of hard won information into the manuscript somewhere. Do not fall into this trap. The result will be a piece of dry, uninteresting writing which will put your reader to sleep. Not exactly the goal of an author to be sure.
Carefully select the tidbits which will help to move your plot forward and present them in a manner appropriate to your character’s age and experience. Use words and phrases which suit the protagonist’s gender and background.
Be wary of paraphrasing your research, if you have done a sufficient job you will understand the subject fully and be able to express it as your hero or heroine would. The words should roll naturally off their tongues without sounding stilted or as if they were reciting something learned by rote, but which they really have no understanding of.
Always, always be sure your facts are correct and events are portrayed realistically. Do not give in to a whim and twist actual documented events to suit the purpose of your plot. Part of the craft of writing is finding ways to get your story where you want it to go without riding roughshod over the facts.
For me, this is the best part of the process. I get to play with my characters and their storyline, often a bit of research will jump out at me and I just have to use it. Now, the fun begins…
It is extremely important to allow your writing to mellow and age. Once you have finished a story, or a chapter(s) depending on the length of your work in progress, put it away for a week or so. Work on other things and then go back and read your previous work with fresh eyes. You will be amazed at what you find, places where you may need to cut things out to speed up the flow of the story where it is bogged down with fact; places where you need to flesh things out more. Back you go to your research files. Do this more than once and keep an open mind.
Finally, have someone else read what you have written. See if it makes sense to them, have you glossed over something which needs more information; have you bored them to tears explaining how a particle accelerator works when a brief couple of sentences would suffice?
I love this part of crafting the story. Call me crazy, I know.
Part Five of this workshop deals with organizing your data and sources. It will post at 5:00 PM See you then.