Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pros and Cons of Research

There are times I believe that research, though important for accuracy, can be a huge problem in the goal of writing a book. I read an article several years ago that gave advice for creating memorable writing and one of the tips that stuck with me was to use specifics in order to make the story more realistic. It made perfect sense but it also made me realize looking over some of the stuff I had written that none of it had specifics so I would need to research to find these things to include.

Because my first book was set in a place, Chicago, that I am quite familiar with and in a world, performing arts, that I grew up participating in, I was very comfortable adding in these specifics. I used ballet terminology that I have heard for years, I mentions modes of transportation and topography of the city I know all too well. I only had to look up a few small items as I went through the writing process.

With Breathe it was a similar story that I did not have to look too deeply for things as this time the city was made up and while it is still realistic fiction I was free to invent places and people at my whim so long as they fit the story. The most difficult part of Breathe is that there were two alternate endings and I am not fusing them and expanding upon the shorter of the two in order to make a fully cohesive book.

Sharing Strength did require a limited amount of research because of the syndrome represented PTSD. I myself was diagnosed with PTSD a decade ago and my therapist believed I had actually been suffering from it far longer. I know the psychosis of the disease but because there are characters that got it in a number of different ways and have varying side effects I needed to look into the areas I am not as familiar with. This book is again set in a small made up town so I can paint the picture of Clydesburg as I see fit as long as all accounts match one another.

The last one I am working on revising at the moment is Welcome To Syn and this one is where I have found research to be a  requirement as well as a major hinderance. It is set during the time of the Salem Witch Trials though not in Salem. The hysteria does play a factor in my book however and so I need to understand that element as well as learn about the darker side of the craft because it does get introduced eventually. Even though it is set in another town I need it to be believable so I have been looking at Salem and getting to know about the people of that time.

I find myself reading and researching for hours fascinated by what I see with still little usable information to be garnered for my own needs. How do you learn what you need without falling into a pit of information that could instead turn your book into a research paper? What can be done in order to narrow a search to just at least mostly relevant information? This is still a journey I am on and hopefully will find some answeres soon so I can get back to being more productive.

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