1. cndnveggie
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    cndnveggie New Member

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    Worrying about accuracy and realism - too early?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by cndnveggie, May 13, 2013.

    Total newbie here! I'm still taking time to look through previous threads, but thought I would post my question anyways.

    How early in your writing do you worry about accuracy and realism? Do you just let yourself write early on and then come back and edit for accuracy later? Or do you stop and research to make sure things are fairly accurate as you go? By accurate/realistic, I mean the little details that don't necessarily affect the plot line, but that would add to the depth and authenticity of the story, or that maybe give a plausible back story. I'm finding myself getting caught up in the details, and getting discouraged by the amount of research I could do/need to do in order to make things believable. But in reality, it's not critical to the story I'm writing. Should I just focus on the main points and worry about details later, or start getting into the habit of researching as I go?

    TIA!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I research as I go along. However, this approach may not work for you. You may find that researching as you write is distracting and prevents you from actually finishing what you've started. So my advice is to choose the method that is the most productive for you.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always do my research as I'm writing. The idea I could *think* something works one way, and then find out after writing the story that it doesn't and thus a major plot point, the whole premise, a character's arc, the whole story is outlandish and unworkable - no way. I don't get anal about research, but I want to know enough about things to understand if I can do what I want to do. If I don't feel comfortable, I do more research, contact more people, ask more questions. Many times I end up reading more about something than is needed for the story, but that's just because I discover a deeper interest in it, and I move on with the writing anyway.
     
  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Yeah...It is better in the long run to research as you go so that you don't have to alter large sections of your story because you got something crucial wrong.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that it depends entirely on you and your creative and writing process. If inspiration feels fragile, then I'd say charge ahead and write, and worry about those details later. Yes, that might mean that you'll sometimes throw away big hunks of writing. But that's balanced against the possibility that you might find that you're slogging sloooooowly along, struggling to write at all.

    Now, that's a little different from research in general. If you're writing a story centered around the main character's hobby, for example, then I think that it would make sense to submerge yourself in reading about that hobby for a while, to get the mood and learn those cool or funny or surprising things that you want to weave into the story.

    But if you're writing a story about a perfume collector, say, and find yourself trying to remember, "OK, was it citrus or sandalwood that disappears quickly when you wear a perfume?" then it may not matter. If you're implementing a big sun and citrus symbolism theme, you care. If you're not, just pick one and look it up later.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I like to know everything I possibly can before I get too deep into what I'm writing. I have binders of information I've printed out for projects I had to do a lot of research for. :p I think it's different for everyone. I don't think there's a wrong way to do it unless you completely ignore accuracy. Whether you do your research before, during, or after is up to you. Just do it at some point or another. :)
     
  7. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    I research what I know my story's going to be about beforehand. However, there are some things I have to look up as I'm writing.

    For example, I did a shitload of research on vampire mythology for the story I'm writing, watched documentaries on serial killers and mobsters. And originally my story was going to be set in Detroit. Then when I started writing the first chapter, I thought it would be cool to start it in the subway. Then I found out Detroit didn't have a subway system, so I changed the setting to New York. Mind you, I'm probably gonna need much more research, seeing as I've never been to the US.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a difficult question to answer in the abstract. It depends on how much the rest of the story depends on the particular issue for which you need research. As far as the "details," those are something that you as the writer need to know, but the readers don't necessarily need to know them. There can be a danger in writing too many details that aren't really relevant, although they will effect larger actions, and as the writer, you need to know how they'll effect those actions.

    I feel generally that you can never know too much when you're writing about some particular situation. However, there obviously comes a point where you need to stop researching and just start writing. Where that point is depends on how much you know already, what the plot or scenario in your story is, and how specifically those details will affect the story, beyond what it would seem to someone not informed about your particular scenario.
     
  9. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Since this post is on the "setting thread" I am assuming you are particularly asking about setting research. Setting not only makes the chars grounded (instead of chars just floating in the air) it also can play a useful role in creating the mood of the scene/chapter/entire novel. In "Crime and Punishment", for example, we are introduced to the chaotic and poverty struck part of the city in detail which is kind of a reflection of the MC's state of mind. May be the rats that live in the drains and plaster pilling off of the walls of the stairwell leading to the MC's room may not directly affect the main plot but it does add to the story. And to write in such detail and use it for a purpose in the story you have to have knowledge about it before you actually write. Assuming you are not writing a story whose setting you are familiar with, then you have to do at least some research.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...i deal with both from the beginning, don't 'worry' about them...

    ...i'd be more likely to research as i go, to avoid having to do a lot of rewriting later...

    ...see above...

    ...that's what my answers refer to...

    ...no one can answer that for you... there is no 'should'... only what works best for each individual writer... don't do what anyone else does... find out what you can do best and do that...
     
  11. inkyliddlefingers
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    inkyliddlefingers Member

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    i tend to read around my research topic a lot before writing to allow me to really absorb the subject matter. For instance at the moment I am reading lots of WW2 in general and in Aktion T4 in particular.

    When I feel I know a reasonable amount on the subject, I start the writing process. I do it this way because I hate breaking the rhythm when I pick up paper and pen (my first draft is always handwritten with a fountain pen). I do have a small notebook at my side in which I write questions or problems down and at the end of my creative tether (unsually after around five hrs), I will research these, but they are usually minor points which do not take long to discover.

    I love research so occasionally I have to remind myself that I am creating a work of fiction, not fact. That way I don't get bogged down trying to make facts fit into my story just becasue I think they are great/interesting/little known facts, and not integral to the plot.
     
  12. sierraromeobravo
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    sierraromeobravo Member

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    I may not be as experienced as a lot of the others that have posted but what works for me is to let the setting develop as I write. I research the science and social ideas involved with the plot and often have a timeframe of when I want it to take place but the setting becomes it's own beast. I'm halfway through my latest story and it originally started in Washington, D.C. area then moved to the western coast of North America until it actually didn't even exist on this planet. Those changes came because it just fit better with the plot.
     

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