I just had to ask.
No, really. It was my turn to come up with the topic for the blog chain. So I asked about how members of the chain gang did research.
The actual questions were: How do you do research for your settings, your story and your characters’ quirks? What interesting tidbits about yourself and the world you live in have you learned along the way?
Here's a tad bit of what everyone had to say:
Christine said she wasn't prepared for the amount of digging she would have to do for her project.
"Then I thought that having one of them die at the hands of a serial killer would be cool – especially if there could be a paranormal twist to it. Considering the 1500’s was the height of the Inquisition, I figured this could be so easy to find.
Yeah…NO. It took a little digging. Sure, I found the serial killer/demon story easily enough. And found a setting. What didn’t count on was all the other information I would need to write a portion of the novel in 1589 Germany. Things like, what does village life look like, what did the German country side look like at that time, what was the political structue (a character has to report the murder), how was a trial conducted, how was the accused disposed of, etc, etc, etc. All of it required a lot of research."
Elana told us how much she dislikes the 'R' word: I actually dislike researching so much I break out in hives if I have to do it. So you wanna know how I research for my settings and story and quirks? *whispers* I make them up. I might pick a place (the setting) that could be anywhere. Then I don’t have to know street names and stuff. I’m writing a novel right now that requires the characters to go to the beach. So I know it’s in California. But I don't know what city. I don't care what city. The setting is not that integral that I need to know what city. Or the name of the high school. And if I did, I'd simply make them up.
Annie pays attention: I research by trying to pay attention to what's around me and writing down my ideas (as opposed to thinking I'll remember them forever and then being sad in 10 minutes when they're gone). I would like to think that as I figure out Outlaw Song more, I'll get deeper into research if need be. But, I'm trying not to let research scare me right now so that I can just get my characters and the plot down firmly.
Sandra said she doesn't rely on research for character traits: I don't think I've consciously researched character traits, unless it's an illness like manic-depression. Character quirks tend to reveal themselves over time as I work with my characters. For instance, Paul's best friend goes by Scott, but that's actually his middle name. His first name is Oliver, after his mother Olivia; Paul started calling him Scott when he was too young to say "Oliver," and it stuck. I've always known that Yvonne likes flowers, but she told me on this draft that she'd rather study botany than psychiatry.
Carolyn sounds a lot like my kind of researcher, gathering knowledge in whatever way she can: Thanks to the fact that I research all kinds of crazy things, I have a lot of interesting tidbits in my head about unrelated things. But that also helps me understand the world better, and I like that.
Kate counts "living life" among her research methods: Yes, I count the very act of breathing as research! And this means that I am researching ALL THE TIME!!! With thirty years of experience under my belt, I have to say that I am getting rather good at this type of research.
Click on the links, and check out everyone's full, awesome-tastic responses. (I hope I haven't missed any links in the chain. Someone can lash me with a spaghetti noodle if I have.)
Tomorrow, it's back to my regularly scheduled programming. (Yes, I actually plan to post more than once this week.) I've got some interesting stories to tell. Be sure to catch tomorrow's post about catching a legend.