1. Nicholas C.
    Offline

    Nicholas C. Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    5

    When and how much to research?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Nicholas C., May 29, 2012.

    In my current WIP I have a murder that takes place within the first chapter, and though this isn't a crime/mystery novel, there is going to be a bit of a sub-plot involving a homicide investigation. I've been trying to figure out when I need to be researching how this is done (as in 1st draft, 2nd draft, etc) and also how it needs to be researched. I've done a few google searches just to see what resources are out there online. However, this hasn't turned up anything too impressive. I'm just curious as to how others have tackled this kinda thing.
     
  2. MissRis
    Offline

    MissRis Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Messages:
    235
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    Depends what you need... I do research as required. I have a fire scene and researched what professionals say about fires and how they start etc. I wouldn't wait to do your research until multiple revisions. It just doesn't make sense.
     
  3. louis1
    Offline

    louis1 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    7
    When and how much to research?
    Always and more.

    is this a good answer?
     
  4. indy5live
    Offline

    indy5live Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    I wrote my whole novel and am having to go back and change so much because I didn't take the time to do proper research but too be honest, I am glad I got the whole story on paper because it's not that difficult to go back and tweek things to be accurate to the setting, time period, character, location, etc. So to anwser your question, I'd say get the story on paper. Unless you are the type that loves research and research-papers, otherwise, the fun part of writing might turn into a school assignment and loose its thrill. When insperation hits, write!
     
  5. The Blood Countess
    Offline

    The Blood Countess Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say as soon as possible. It's amazing how much a little knowledge can impact the realism of a story. If you don't know about the protocol of a homicide detective, you need to. While your character is walking the streets, they should really be taken down to the precinct and questioned. Etc. I saw this mistake in a YA series called "Hush, Hush". The main character Nora Grey was being grilled by two detectives about a girl in her class who had been severely beaten.
    1) Nora is a minor. She needs to have an adult present when being interviewed by police personnel. 2) Nothing was supporting the officers' suspicion of her being involved. I'm not entirely sure why they showed up at her house to begin with. I mean, what "evidence" or "lead" brought them there?

    Note: The series wasn't the best, so it's not the greatest example of an inconsistency.

    All in all, these inconsistencies overwhelmed the scene. It was treated as a "filler" instead of an actual sub-conflict. I'm sure the author intended it to play a part, but the lack of realism(research) made it out to be a few pages of zero-importance. It was nothing to take seriously.

    Additionally, it's rather hard to treat murder and homicide investigations as a backdrop. Not saying it can't be done, but it is very difficult. If your characters are involved or know something about the event, detectives will be likely to call and knock every few days. They like to wring their leads dry. Taking into consideration the advanced technology and methods[using psychology] of extracting information from people, it's hard to see anyone getting away with suppressing information(for very long).

    Don't mind my ranting. My point is, try to research the basics, and maybe a little extra, just to be on the safe side. You don't want inconsistencies or people who are familiar with forensics and homicide investigations thinking "What a minute, why isn't this guy being arrested? He left his prints all over the bloody place and you're telling me that not one was lifted during the CSI? Not one?" or "So the police came knocking only once at her door when she 1) knows the victim, 2) was seen with the victim, and 3) was spotted dumping a large tarp in the middle of Lake Tahoe? All of that and we get one visit, really?"

    Happy writing! :)
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    you must do it from the start... or even before you start... if you just write without knowing what you're writing about, you may well be wasting a lot of time and words, since you could be writing stuff that simply wouldn't happen and has to be comepletely redone after you do the research and learn what's really what...

    it makes no sense at all to me, to just go ahead and write a whole book and not research the things you needed to know till afterwards... that can't help but result in a muddled mess of changes...
     
  7. Nicholas C.
    Offline

    Nicholas C. Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    5
    Thanks for the replies all.

    My main characters are involved, however they are on the run, so it's more of a case of how detectives investigate a crime scene, analyze evidence, and develop leads. No one was witness to the murder, so there are no interrogations to be done really (perhaps the character that called 911 when finding the body).

    One element I'm trying to incorporate is the police cruiser camera, as the murder victim is a police officer who is making a routine traffic stop. I'm currently trying to develop a scene where the detective is analyzing the footage, but I'm not quite sure yet as to who else should be involved in this.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    When to research: As soon as you know you need more knowledge, more depth, on a subject that impinges on, or is infused into, your story.

    How much to research: When you know as much or more about the topic than most of your more sophisticated readers. Or at least to the degree you won't look the fool before those readers who are knowledgeable, but aren't full experts on the topic.
     
  9. kamikazepilot42
    Offline

    kamikazepilot42 Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hattiesburg, MS

    What he said. When I know my story is going to involve some things I don't have a ton of knowledge about, I research right away. Otherwise, I research as I go and come upon situations where I feel I need more background information. I always have my Internet browser up behind my writing. Sometimes the research slows down the writing process, but I also find that so many times it inspires it. So often I start looking for one bit of information and end up reading on beyond that. Not only does it allow me to be knowledgeable about the entire world I'm creating (even if it doesn't all make it into the story), but I tend to find bits of information that inspire me for new directions for the story or little easter eggs I can throw in that have no bearing on the theme, plot, etc., yet leave underlying common threads throughout. People that are well-versed int he subject might notice them.

    As far as how much research...until I know enough to have everything in my story standing on true, solid ground.
     
  10. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I did some major research for my story before I started, just to be able to write it. Then little things always appears along the way that I check when I need to know it, like if a certain plant grows in this area, or how long a certain street is or how many 24h farmacies there are in this area, things I don't know I need to know before I get there. I google these details very thoroughly too, because to me they are what gives your setting that little extra, that makes it more vivid, more real and so far people who read it thought I'd been there for the details described.
    And sometimes, when I can't find what I'm looking for, like a specific restaurant or something, I decide to be vague about the exact location and invent one of my own. :)
     
  11. Afion
    Offline

    Afion Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Shropshire, UK
    Try going to your library, and checking the autobiography section. There will probably be something written by someone involved in police work :)
    And there's always the research forum...
     
  12. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    I may or may not be the best person to answer this question. I am absolutely neurotic about research. I hate reading novels with, to me, glaring inaccuracies. So I have always made every effort to not be guilty of similar errors myself. Even with subject with which I am fairly knowledgable I will do more research because, in my opinion, there really is no such thing as too much knowledge. If I don't use it in this book, it will hold me in good stead in some future manuscript.

    So, yeah. Start your research as soon as you know you need it and finish your research when you finish your manuscript. period.
     
  13. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20
    This is why I can only write fantasy. I have to have at least some room to fudge it.
     
  14. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    You have to research as you're writing. I can't imagine writing anything, let alone a complete book, only guessing at how things are done, the terms used, the layout of the land, etc etc. Good grief, you could have a whole book based on hogwash.
     

Share This Page