Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To The Internets!

I admit it--I never have been an organized person. I am not now an organized writer, either. One day, perhaps. It's my dream to someday know WTF I'm doing sometime prior to five seconds after I've done it.

I know a lot of writers who sit down, and are able to either plot out their stories, or at least map their writing processes to say, "at this point, I am ready to do research on the subjects in my story. I'm not one of those people. In fact, I don't really do much research at all while I'm writing. I know what you're thinking--boy, it's a good thing she doesn't write historicals, and you'd be right. I'm far too compelled to write about what I know about the Middle Ages--the stink, the backbreaking labor, the oppression of nobility and church, the widespread acceptance of the belief that women are worth about the same as draft horses, etc. No, it's a good thing I don't write historicals.

A lot of writers also complain about getting lost in the research. As if this were anything but a foregone conclusion--the majority of us are readers as well. Get lost in books? Us? Say it ain't so!

It's not that I don't do research--I do. But other than a short glance at wiki or another reference site, I don't do it while I'm writing. Research is something I do in between books or when I've set aside a day and given up the writing for lost or need a break from it. And I do immersive research. I've come to appreciate the value of systemic understanding of a subject, and that's what I attempt to do, and as you can guess, it takes an intensive amount of time and effort to get to the level of being so familiar with a subject that you don't have to withdraw from it to parse its effect on your life.

There's nothing that jars me more in reading a story than coming to a point where it's obvious that the author is inserting research. To my mind, the only way to avoid that is to be immersed in the element you need to understand for the story as much as the characters will be. On some subjects, that's harder than others, and in some cases you as author will need to go back and do some explaining as best as you can, so that the audience, most of whom will not give two mutant rats' asses about your subject, can still enjoy the story.

But that's a job for editing.

1 comment:

Lynda K. Scott said...

Oh, I hate brain dumps! In the past, SF was full of brain dumps where you could see the author literally writing his notes into the book. Yeah, that was hard SF (the nuts and bolts kind) but it was also BORING when it was so blatant.