Friday, June 3, 2011

Research, The Joy and The Pain Part Three

How Much is Too Much

Honestly, you can never do too much research. The more you know the better you can craft your story and imbue it with a depth of understanding which will come through in your narrative and dialogue.
An important fact to keep in mind though, is you will actually only use a small portion of the information you collect. This doesn’t mean that all your hard work has been a waste of time. It is indicative of the fact you have done an excellent job of researching your subject(s). Keep all your notes in a file to refer to while you craft your story. You may find there are places in the flow of the plot where you need to flesh out certain points or develop a secondary character more fully. Delve into your research files and find the information you require to do just that.
You may find there are sub plots which run parallel to your main story which can be broadened and enlarged upon to create spin off stories or to continue in other books in a series. Once again, the initial research you have done will prove invaluable. Information which did not fit into your original manuscript can play an integral part in the plot of further stories involving the characters created in the inaugural plot. It is often surprising how a bit of information gleaned during your research which has no real bearing on the work in progress will often provide the germ of an idea for a truly amazing novel.
In Part Four, I will discuss how to incorporate your mountain of information into your manuscript without sounding like you are spewing an encyclopedia at your reader. Nothing turns off readers quicker than an information dump, especially in Middle Grade and Young Adult genres. Part Four posts at 3:00 PM See you then!


Lisa Forget said...

LOL! So true. Tons of information and sometimes only a sentence or paragraph about the subject in your story!


It's like all the work you put into creating your characters - you won't use everything you know about them, but somehow, all that background supports your creation, making them more believable to your readers.

Thanks for another wonderful post, Nancy!

Heather Haven said...

For my first book, I spent weeks, literally, on research of types of Coast Guard Cutters. What wound up in the book was merely the name of a cutter. However, along the way, I learned what the Coast Guard can do by nautical law and that knowledge very much colored one of my chapters. I had no idea I was going there when I'd started out. You never know where research will lead you! Ain't life grand?

Anonymous said...

There is so much information on the subjects I'm researching, that the researching never stops. I just wonder when to say enoughs enough on the research and start writing. Thanks for all this information you are sharing. Looking forward to part IV.

Sara Durham Writer ~ Author said...

Hi Nancy, finally checking in from the West Coast. Wonderful information and posts! I discovered the online Library last October and I think it's the best thing since the invention of pizza:)

From your home you sign in, put in areas you want to research, find your books, put holds on them and within days they are sent to the Library nearest to you to pick up! All with a few clicks. You don't have to drive! Currently I have six books on Guatamala, Shamanism, etc for a work in progress sitting in my office. I use the internet too and have a notebook of things I printed out years ago in case I need them.

Okay enough babbling, thanks for doing this workshop!


Nancy Bell said...

Hi Everyone, thanks for commenting. Only the author can really decide how much is too much to include. It can be hard because as the creator you are very close to your work. It is important to have trusted people read your manuscript and give their take on if the text is too dry and stuffed with research information they could have gone without knowing. Rule of thumb: Information should move the plot forward.