1. ReplicatorJade
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    ReplicatorJade New Member

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    Researching...

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ReplicatorJade, Oct 16, 2008.

    Do you find the more you research about what you're writing to be more helpful??? And what sources do you decide when researching and how far do you go with the research?

    I find it better to know enough information I need when lets say writing about a certain event in my story, a type of character and the places in your story.

    Personally, I like to get in the minds fo each of my characters. I pretend to be them(like an actor does). I sometimes will even explain to myself everything the character has been there, as if I have been through it. All their failures, victories, weakness, strength as well as the emotional side of the character. I find the more information you have the better.
    Now, if doing fictional events or places, that would be a little hard, but I think with a little imagination and if I try to create the event as visual as possible, it helps more.

    Does anyone agree with this or have anything to add???
     
  2. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Well, I write about what I'm already interested in and reading about, so to me, research, for the most part, isn't really like research. I just read what I'm interested in, and if it has anything to do with my story, I incorporate it.

    Granted, I write fantasy, but it's based on an existing culture/mythology so I do read a lot. It all blends together with what I'm interested in so much that I never keep track of how much I "research" or whatever.

    With fictional characters, I get to know them mainly by just writing them in action.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a strong believer in researching material, even when I'm reasonably familiar with it. My preferred genre is science fiction, and I am a stickler about realism and plausibility; I strive to keep the science at least no contradicting accepted theory.

    For example, one of my short stories used a research space station in one of Earth's Trojan points as a stable base. Even though I was somewhat familiar with Trojan points, I looked it up both online (Google, checked a couple of online articles) and in a couple hardcopy references I had around the house (yeah, I'm a science geek, I DO have such references in my bookcases), to make sure I remembered it correctly.

    All that for a mention in one paragraph.

    Some of this I do in preparation for writing, other times I research while proofreading to check something I may have rushed through during writing. I try not to interrupt a writing session for research, though, in order to preserve my momentum.
     
  4. mutants vs. vampires
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    mutants vs. vampires Member

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    if i tell you, you will find me. and you aren't su
    i really just get a sheet of paper, and use one side, the main things about them (dob, dod, full name, parents, siblings, signature (weird, i know), personality, traits, how they are built, eyes, hair, height, and timeline of their life.) i get in their heads, too, and write things about "myself." it helps me when i'm writing to look at their timeline and characteristics on how they act and things. for a boy in my story (Minor character):

    "Who are you?" I asked.
    "Mike McCoy. Who the hell are you, more importantly?" The boy answered.
    "Shane. Now why don't you shut up now?" I told him.
    A beautiful girl shouted before Mike could get the chance to reply, "Shut up, you cocky ding-dong. Can't you see he's talking to his girlfriend?"
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I really, really, really don't buy into character sheets/profiles. Characters are dynamic. They change with what is set before them to overcome.

    I will have some image in my head for a character, but all I write down is what I write as the story. The story draft is my reference on the character.

    Certainly, there are points in the story where I have to ask myself, "Just how will Charlie react to this?" With all I currently know about him or her (yeah, I deliberately chose a gender-ambiguous name :)), I try to make a best guess, taking into account how impulsive the character is. Sometimes forcing the decision tells me something new about the character, so it will influence how I think about other actions Charlie takes later (or earlier, if I'm not writing in strict chronological order).

    I don't really consider that "research", though. How do you research that which has no actual existence? Research on a character may enter in if Charlie hails from a particular city or country, in which case I may need to check certain facts. Even if Charlie comes from Boston, where I have actually lived, I might double check facts about the city or the area that could creep into the story.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Cog, I develop characters in context with the evolution of the plot. I don't claim it to be the "right" way to do it, just that it works for me. I enjoy carrying my MC into some threat where I have a wide range of options on how he/she reacts to it.

    For example, my MC in one book is informed that he has a genetic mutation giving him the ability to interface with a prototype space ship. The ship was specifically designed (for security purposes) to only operate through a telepathic link with the pilot, but the original pilot with telepathic capability died. My MC had no idea of his dormant talent and he is the only telepath available at a time when operation of the ship could save lives. Without his cooperation, the ship won't fly. The problem is, my MC does not have the confidence to attempt such a daunting task. He initially makes excuses and refuses to let the ship integrate with his mind . . .

    I did not anticipate this brief conflict at the beginning of the book. It evolved naturally during the writing process, as did the temperament of the MC. If I had been writing with a relatively static characterization, I would have been forced to adapt the scene to the character, rather than allowing the scene to flow as it did.

    As far as research, Louis L'Amour was a famous writer of western stories. He was also renowned for his research. When he described "a large rock alongside the road to the west out of Abilene", readers could actually follow that old trail and the rock would actually exist right where he said it did. I like that kind of realism in fiction, it makes the story more "believable". I have just finished the first half of a Vietnam war story that takes my MC from the headquarters compound at MAC-V into the streets of Saigon where he takes a wild cyclo ride to a whorehouse in Cholon. The brothel acts as cover for a CIA contact point. From there, he heads down some rancid back alleys into a monastery, through an old cemetery and an abandoned VC tunnel to reach the Saigon River where a leaky fishing boat takes him upstream to a clandestine helicopter rendezvous. The trip is vivid with descriptions from my actual adventures in Nam. I have been to every place mentioned in the story. Even so, I made sure to do additional research into actual dates of major battles, terrorist bombings (like the central Saigon Movie theater in 1969), monsoon characteristics at that time of year . . . anything that would lend complete realism to my story. I even got the date for the change-over in design for the flash suppression muzzle on M-16s that occurred during the period of my story. All this for a fictional action war story.
     
  7. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I'm quite partial to the genre of historical fiction, so for me research is the basis for my writing. Sure there are aspects that are 'dynamic' (thanks for the word Cog) but the richness of my writing comes from the nuances that only research can bring.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...no, i just do what amount is needed, don't waste time going beyond that...

    ...whatever sources are relevant... and i go only as far as i need, to tet the info necessary to make my work accurate/believable... i've no set list, or number, or time limit... makes no sense to me, to be that rigid...

    ...'enough' is a given for anyone, isn't it?... how could less than enough be 'best'?...

    ...sounds like way too much... characters are 'known' well enough to me when i first think them up or choose them from among the countless ones in my memory/knowledge... and i don't need to 'be' them all to know them well enough to write about them... to do that for all characters, no matter how minor is a major waste of writing time, imo...

    ...what were you referring to if not 'fiction'?...
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not fair advice. You have waaaaaaaay more years of life experience to draw from than the rest of us...I heard Moses sought you out for the proper layout of the Ten Commandments! LOL
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, she's younger than my 88 year old mother, who lives on her own and does all her own yard work (and most of her home's maintenance), carves wood animals and other small projexts, and is a decent oil artist.

    Respect your elders, kid! ;)
     
  11. CommonGoods
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    CommonGoods Senior Member

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    Ehm, hard to answer that question, since I know a lot about a lot... I spend hours browsing the web, just clicking links. I happen to be an expert on suicide, not for the obvious reasons, but because I stumbled upon a website about trains...

    Having a broad field of knowledge is suggested if not required in order to write things that are logical. I´m not suggesting you take it up to Cogito´s level (sorry mate, but your turning into a walking wikipedia, if I would do that, my head would explode) but if you are writing a subject, spend a couple of hours on the web just sifting trough wikipedia and related sites. Research can't kill, but it shouldn't harm your writing.
     
  12. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    The more research i do the more comfortable i am writing about the topic. the inner editor tends to yell at me if i don't. so, i do as much as i can.
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone has to do some research, often even for picture books. I have three great examples of how research helped an author:

    A woman who was writing a picture book with bears as the main characters only looked up the encyclopedia entry on bears and found out a few simple facts, most that she didn't need, but others that simply livened up the text, like the fact that bears hum.

    A friend in my writers' group told me about a story with a character who is diabetic and gives herself insulin injections. The writer had the character inject the insulin into her vein and not the muscle. Anyone who knows anything about medicin would know that could kill a person, so the writer loses credibility.

    There are some stories that you could get away with not researching it. L. Ron Hubbard was once asked to contribute a story for a publication, and it had to be about 20 000 words. Try as he might, without any research, he only hit 10. Then he spent a day with people who worked in the field that he was writing about, learning as much as he could. He only needed that day to gather facts to add so much information, like the feel of the boats, the sounds that they make, and what people had to go through to get where they are in the field, to give him so much more matieral to work with. That added to many more layers to the story and the narrative that it was easy to rework it and hit the length requirements.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    salty...

    1. i never help anyone with work that aids or abets violence, so would never have given moses the time of day, much less any help with writings from someone who told his followers to kill all the 'unchosen' males, but keep their women and girl children for slaves and put obeying him in all things at the top of his list of do-it-or-be-damned stuff!

    2. at the time, i was too busy up on olympus, trying to get all those guys there to stop raping and impregnating their daughters, to bother with what was going on down there in the desert...

    3. i never could stand charlton heston, even after i met him a few thousand years later...

    seriously, i didn't start writing seriously till i was in my early 40's, so yes, i had a lot more experience to draw on than many of you do now...
     

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