Friday, April 10, 2015

Research - A Necessary Evil

I took a look through all my blog posts over the last 3 years and realized I've never discussed the research aspect of fiction writing. This is one topic that is not only extremely important for the writer to do, but a necessary one. 

Research is not one of my favorites. I want to keep writing, not stop to make sure I've made sure it rang true. I've learned, however, if you don't want to lose your reader, you must take the time.

When writing fiction, there's not only research to accurately describe a city, or a common job, or even subjects from the past, such as painters, kings and queens, actual terms used, you can also use it to come up with names, or a made-up language, or even behavior of a certain character.

There are some writers that are so detailed in their research they actually take you there. For example, the Outlander series, or I Mona Lisa. Both great books by the way. But if you aren't writing historical fiction, do you still need to do research? The answer is, of course.

When I decided to create a made-up language in my books, I researched certain ancient languages. Mostly Native American and Nepalese, but I did use a few others, such as Arabic, and even Egyptian. I wanted the language to roll off the tongue. To be a softer version of the ancient ones. When I would look up words from those times, I would drop letters, or add if it sounded better to me, but I kept the language as close to sounding like it all fit together as possible.

The same goes for the names of the Djen. There are a few that I borrowed from other books because I liked them, or maybe even on a television show, but for the most part, I researched them.

The toughest research I've done was the FBI stuff. I finally had to make the decision whether or not I wanted to have FBI agents because they typically don't work on these types of cases. Instead, I went for the imagination on this subject. A made-up department from the past - Project Blue Book. Of course, they were with the Air Force, but mine are a secretive department for cases of UFO activity, and strange phenomena. Yes, another X-Files.

But, I wanted some intrigue. After speaking with a retired FBI agent and learning none of those shows on TV are accurate, like NCIS, or most of the other shows that deal with the FBI, I figured I was pretty safe as long as I followed some sort of a protocol.

To some writers, research is fun. Yes, it's true, you learn all kinds of stuff you probably would have never taken the time to check out, but it can be a time gobbler. You can find yourself going through so many sites that you forget what it was you needed to find out in the first place. I've even found I was posting pins to my pinterest boards because I liked the pictures.

It happens to the best of us. But try to keep your thoughts on track. Another thing I've found from doing 5 years of research, is my bookmark lists are so long that even if I wanted to find something I marked in the past, I never will.

So my best advice, write the rough draft first. When you come back to do your revisions you will no doubt be reminded that you need to research certain scenes or even characters. Don't get so caught up in the moment that it takes you much longer to write your book. 

Second, if you can afford to go to some of the places in your book, then by all means, go. But if you're like me, you have to use Goggle - a lot. That's okay, just make sure you are thorough in your reading and take notes.

And last, but not least, don't be a show-off with your research. Nobody likes a show-off. Just add what needs to be added to bring the scene or character to life.

Well, I hope these 3 little hints help and good luck in your research. But remember, there's no way out of it, you will have to research something along the way.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Love, Lisa

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