1. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2019
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    81

    Research Debate?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Justin Attas, Jul 16, 2019.

    What's something you're dealing with in your WIP right now that you KNOW you should research... but you're putting off? I'm a firm believer I can't be the only one who does this! One concept is holding you up, but you just want so badly to write the damn story. For me, it's effects of PTSD and if it's every really considered "cured". I want to hear yours! Happy writing!
     
    The Mink likes this.
  2. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    735
    Location:
    Seattle
    If I recall correctly, Stephen King mentions that he usually writes a good story then corrects it with research afterwards in revisions. I would only block writing based on research that effects the direction of the story, thus corrupting the value of the words written.
     
    Justin Attas and Some Guy like this.
  3. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2018
    Messages:
    6,693
    Likes Received:
    10,138
    Location:
    The kingdom of scrambled portmanteaus
    I agree wit Matt. I just additionally put {*PLACEHOLDER*} where the inconvenience of reality intrudes. :)
     
    Justin Attas and Tomb1302 like this.
  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,939
    Likes Received:
    10,724
    Location:
    The great white north.
    Stephen King is terrible for accuracy. Ask anyone that knows anything about guns and they can tell you how well King's research method works.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  5. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    735
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yep. And that can be a deliberate choice by the storyteller. I prefer to be accurate myself, but if it sells it sells. If it entertains it entertains.
     
    Alan Aspie and Some Guy like this.
  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,939
    Likes Received:
    10,724
    Location:
    The great white north.
    I agree, but God knows how many times I've been reading a book, and I'm all, "that's not right... and that doesn't make sense... well that's impossible because...," and just get dragged right out of the story. I have literally stopped reading books because I couldn't deal with that nonsense.
     
    Shenanigator and Alan Aspie like this.
  7. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    735
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yep. But there are also truths that can pull readers out of the story. Some historical facts that are too unbeleivable for modern readers to accept, and some technical details that are too complicated to explain.

    An example of the former (historical facts) that I like to cite is how in the movie Gladiator, their historical consultants wanted them to have the gladiators carry out Roman product endorsements, which would be historically accurate, but the movie writers axed that detail because it would be seen by viewers as an anachronism.

    For technical details, as an engineer: giving things like hacking, computer-skilled characters, aerospace engineering, etc. proper justice is really hard. Probably 95%+ of Hollywood representations of tech geniuses are fundamentally flawed. But if they were to portray it accurately, there would be too many pocket protectors and too many lunch meetings. The real world is boring, which is one detail that fiction seeks to cure.

    So instead of optimizing for factual accuracy, I posit that writers should optimize for entertainment and preserved suspension of disbelief. Which is quite different from truth, because the average reader's preconceptions are what we have to look towards.

    Of course, there are some genres like hard sci-fi or detective fiction where part of the appeal is in being factually accurate. A writer in those genres needs to understand and cater to this. Though in a hard sci-fi, the future detective can probably have procedures that wouldn't fly in a good old fashioned police procedural. We cater to our readers.
     
    Justin Attas, Azuresun and Hammer like this.
  8. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2017
    Messages:
    5,939
    Likes Received:
    10,724
    Location:
    The great white north.
    But the awesome thing is that preconceptions change, facts (usually) don't. That's why entertainment (to use extreme examples) like Song of the South and The Birth of a Nation that relied heavily on audience preconceptions don't really work well today.
     
    Shenanigator likes this.
  9. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    693
    Likes Received:
    735
    Location:
    Seattle
    Those are definitely extreme examples. I don't really know enough about those works to discuss them specifically, though due to the prevellence of pseudo-science during that historical moment, their creators may have had trouble sorting fact from their own preconceptions, let alone their audience's.

    Thinking about more modern examples like how to anchor books to technical details like how computers and guns work -- we can't really assume that even those details will stay the same as time passes. If Star Trek had focused on making sure that their computers were accurate to how computers worked in the 60s, then that wouldn't have aged very well. Technology, people, and cultures change.

    It's hard enough to sell fiction in the current moment. We aren't very good at predicting how the future will go, so it's best to look at what people want right now or in the very near future. As time passes, there will be cultural differences no matter what you do. Azimov's work is a good example. It's very 50s. Still a classic.
     
  10. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Messages:
    1,417
    Likes Received:
    1,463
    Location:
    London
    TBH I tend to be the other way round. I treat researching a topic as a reason to not actually write stuff.
     
  11. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2017
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    231
    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    There's always more historical references that fit in even better and force me to rewrite everything when I look for more inspiration in the sources. Trying to do more research about ancient Europe, including Byzantine and Celts, but there were so many countries that I just stick with Iberians, Romans and Macedons for now. Better to make it right for a few countries than smearing a whole continent with old stereotypes going against modern research.
     
    The Mink likes this.
  12. The Mink

    The Mink Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2019
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    37
    While I'm in mid-flight, I often hit things I don;t know. If I stop and research, I will get derailed so I include them in curly parathesis.
    "Glen Curley stepped out of the Craven Arms to have a well deserved smoke break and as he lifted his e-cig to his lips, he saw the canoe on the canal {find the name of any waterway near Allcanning heading East, check legality of ecigs on pub grounds in that area, check a weather forecast for April in Wiltshire} "
    Then once I've finished first drafting, I will do a search for those parenthesis - and find out the information before I second draft that bit. Often the story changes radically between first and second draft and sometimes this is because of the research. I can never have enough research done beforehand such that I won't hit something I don't know when I'm writing.
    I find research very derailing, so my rule is that if I'm writing, don't stop to research unless I absolutely have to
    If it is research about a name, I use a placeholder name - and it is always "Monkey" - so that it is an easy search to not leave the name in. I once typoed monkey - and it ended up staying in till a test reader - apparently I could second/third draft right past it!
     
  13. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Smooth like butter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2,465
    Likes Received:
    5,268
    I've put off writing a whole story because of research. For that one, its the culture and folklore of the coastal Uganda and Kenya region of Lake Victoria (I used to know the regions and cultures there because of my research, but its been so long since I read my notes, that I've forgotten). The story itself takes place on a fictional island in the middle of Lake Victoria, I jotted down an outline, and I have a physical folder of articles. I've made photocopies of library books etc.
    Don't get me wrong, i LOVE researching. In college, while everyone groaned at the mention of research papers, I LOVED research papers because of the RESEARCH part. The thing is, I get too absorbed in researching, chasing white rabbits, and going down rabbit holes into other subjects and it never ends. That frustrates me because I've yet to learn how to focus my research. So, when I feel I've spent too long on research, its probably because I went off on a tangent. Rather than refocus myself, i stop all together.
     
  14. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Smooth like butter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2,465
    Likes Received:
    5,268
    There is a science fiction writing contest that I want to do (I dont do writing contests because I keep thinking im not good enough to win anything). I have a concept (existential rover) and a general plot ("To be or not to be, that is the question"), and a setting (Jupiter's moon, Europa). I just need to do research, and I'm dreading it.
     
  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    17,870
    Likes Received:
    26,996
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Nope, cause I did hours of that already. So you can say that
    I am ahead of the curve on the elements that needed to be
    found in terms of research. :)
     
    Some Guy likes this.
  16. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2019
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    81
    NEVER COUNT YOURSELF OUT! I don't need to cite all of the classic manuscripts that were dug out of the trash before they became bestsellers. You're a human who's trying something and if you've got the grit to see it through, no one can tell you it's not good enough.
     
  17. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2019
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    81
    Damn guys thanks for all the amazing different perspectives. Love it. Interesting to see different approaches to fiction based on reality.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice