16 May 2007

Research and writing...

I LOVE to research. Anyone who knows me, knows this. For me, it's such a huge part of my writing process. The more research I do, the more excited about my stories I get.

BUT, it has a downside too. I can get so caught up in looking for specific details, or just reading about the past that I forget to write. It's definitely a balancing act. Because I ground my stories as firmly in the past as I can, I NEED to know as much as possible. So I'll spend a lot of time tracking down sources and reading from as many different books as I can to make sure I have all the facts I need for my plot.

This slows down my writing and sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. But would I be happy crafting a plot without all that research?

How about you? How do YOU balance research and writing? Any tips you can share?



Karen Mercury said...

Tess, I used to get bogged down in MASSIVE amounts of research. For one book, the word count on the "notes" was longer than the novel! I felt I had to know everything about a country that was ever written down before I even wrote "Chapter One." Course, this way, I only wound up utilizing less than 10% in the final product.

I've become a BIT better--I no longer obsess over the political machinations of a country's history, for instance. And my WIP takes place in Zanzibar, which is the setting for the last unpublished book I wrote. I chose Zanzibar again just because I already had the research books, and remembered a lot of the facts in my head!

Sandra Schwab said...

Tess, I don't think I'll be of great help here: I usually spent an indecently large amount of money on research books. Or, to be more correct, on antique books. While writing Castle of the Wolf I bought three 19th-century guidebooks of Germany (north and south) and continental Europe (one even contains 19th century mud!!!) and also browsed masses of secondary lit about travelling on the Rhine. In the finished novel, the heroine's journey down the Rhine comprises about four pages....

Anne Whitfield - author said...

I too love researching, and it's never a chore for me.
The Victorian period has always been my favourite era, however, I've also been interested in the two world wars for a while.
Now I'm writing a WWII story I feel I need to know more and more and I've been reading so much research that I'll never use in the story, but still good to know.

It's great for the author to know a lot about their period, setting, but it's bad writing if they have to bludgen it over the reader's head for no other reason than to show off how much they've researched. LOL