This blog is very very late, and I apologize for that. Today’s topic in a shortened version is research. Historical, contemporary, fantasy, futuristic, research must be done.
If I want to write a story that has espionage, chases, murder, and romance that happened today and in London, I’d better know what I’m talking about. Research is necessary for anything. Street in London aren’t as wide as those in Texas…actually streets anywhere aren’t as wide as those in Texas. Still, it’s more difficult to have a car chase in London than it is elsewhere. Those little things that make up London? You’d better know them, even if it’s from a Fodor’s guide to the city. Can’t just say whatever and expect people to know.
Historicals are different, for obvious reasons, and more difficult to research. Try finding a book, website, or mention of daily life in Austria during the Napoleonic War that doesn’t mention the Grande Armée, Napoleon, that stupid frozen winter in Russia, or the royalty. Go ahead…and if you DO find something, please be a doll and pass it along!
Futuristic/fantasy require their own research. You have to build a world, and populate it. And then remember it all! Can’t change tactics midpoint, someone will notice.
I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which I find hysterical given how well I know the original story. But there’s a huge plot hole I just discovered that bodes well for the Lydia/Wickham half, but completely disregards the previous half. PLOT HOLE! A little research could’ve prevented that.
What to do with your research:
- Use Wikipedia for a quick and dirty find but always, always double check your sources. If you can’t verify that tidbit by at least 2 other .org, .mil, or .gov resources, skip it.
- Keep a running document of finds. You have her eye color as green? Better remember that! You had him covered in tattoos? Make a list of every single one and where they’re located.
- Trying to remember where you read about how long the British occupation of Washington, D.C. lasted during the War of 1812? Or the battles of the Crimean War? WRITE IT DOWN!
- You think you know the city. You’ve lived here all your life. You know the neighborhoods, the people, that cool bistro down the street. Huh…make notes. No matter how well you think you know a place, you need to make notes to remember for story purposes. Just because you think you know, doesn’t mean ¾ into the story you’ll remember what you had, what description you used. Don’t want long paragraphs of repeating yourself!
- What did you call that creepy alien from your scifi story? And where was that stupid accent located? Better have taken some notes.
The bottom line is that no matter what you’re writing, research is needed. It’s essenital to making the story work. If you can pick up the entire story and change it from LA to NY to DC and back again, what’s the use?