Less Hiding in the Library Stacks, More Trips to the Maldives

I’ve been thinking more about research lately. Five months ago I put all of the text books and journals away as I wanted to get my word count moving rather than get caught in character development hell. Now though I feel like I need to know more before I can improve my story. I’ve been reading lots of blogs and online forums to get a feel for how people would handle the situations that arise in my manuscript. I also work two days a week in an office that receives thousands of calls, each one different, each person with their own reason for calling, which gives me amazing access to a huge variety of people and their responses to a given situation. None of those situations relate to my characters, but the emotions people experience are similar and how they deal with those emotions and stressful situations varies greatly.

Yesterday as I was leaving work someone asked me if today was my writing day. A big fist pump as affirmation and they asked how many words I was likely to get out in a day. They were horrified at my response due to the low figure rather than a high one! ‘What do you do all day then?’ was the next question.

‘Tomorrow it’ll be research.’

‘Oh no, so stuck in the library all day then?’ I didn’t comment that stuck in a library was my idea of heaven.

‘I’ve got a movie to watch and two other novels to read at home in my pj’s’.

My colleague looked awfully sceptical that I could call sitting at home in my pyjamas, watching movies and reading books ‘working’. Just as a side note I haven’t spent all day in my pj’s although I have put my slippers back on!

This led me to think about other books I’ve read and what their research would’ve involved. Now I’m sure all writers are familiar with the movie/book research but what about Joanne Harris? Did she get to live in a chocolaterie to really understand it’s operation?! I listened to Andrew Croome talk at the Perth Writers Festival about his novel Midnight Empire, largely set in the desert outside of Las Vegas. That must’ve been a hideous research trip! As for Fifty Shades of Grey – I haven’t read it but from what I’ve heard of the subject matter I’m guessing the research must’ve been fun!!!

I think I might have to skip ahead from this book and start thinking about the next one so I can plan a trip. Maybe my character ends up stranded on a beach in the Maldives? With only a book and some chocolate to survive…

  1. I took the I15 out of Vegas and headed north. After about 15 miles i saw a small single track road on the left. I took the road and after just a few hundred yards the bitumen gave way to gravel. It was pitch black, the only illumination coming from my two headlights and an indiscernible glow from the moon. See I have never been North out of Vegas but I imagine there is a turn off and I imagine its pretty dark. Get writing and watch less movies, you will become too influenced and bogged down in the detail. I want to read this book. Also it is led not lead. Just thought I would say…..

  2. You’re bossier than my husband Simon! I did stop the research so I could get the first draft finished – now I need to go back and research so I can develop the story! You are right though – you don’t necessarily need to go somewhere to be able to write about it – but it’s much more fun if you do get to go!

    ps – thanks for the copy edit – always needed in my case!

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