♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What kind of research do you do, and how long do
you spend researching before beginning a book?
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The type of research that I do depends upon the type of book or other work that I’m writing. For instance, the research I did for Blue Honor was based on historical records. The research done for a course on poverty and trauma was based on other research by professionals in that area. And, the research I did for Trailokya was multifaceted and strange.
When researching for a historical work like Blue Honor or OP-DEC, the writer has the luxury of documentation, and non-fiction work already done in reams. That is not to say that the same outcomes should be expected, or that the stories take the same turns. No. Blue and OP-DEC are vastly different novels. First of all, Blue relies on the dramatic and makes great use of Victorian novel tradition. Not only was it based in the 1860s, but it was to feel like it was written in that time, too. OP-DEC did have that similar bead to it—the feel and the time stamp, but OP-DEC was a thriller, not a Victorian drama. Likewise, I sunk fictional characters into authentic timelines. Yet, for Blue, I didn’t need to research Film Noir, or figure out the logistics of submarine warfare. Certainly, I did have to research horse soldiers, and the movements of the Army of the Potomac. There was no film to observe, and photographs were limited—rather damaged and poorly rendered, as the artform was relatively new at the time.
Trailokya took a rather different road to incarnation. This drew from real life experiences, including things I learned in my lifetime thus far. It drew from dreams, myths, readings, theology, history, fantasy, and horror. There were some things that I needed to nail down when I sat to write, and things I still wanted to learn, whether they made it into the text or not. I felt this might help flavor the texts properly.
Reading about demons, Astral planes, dream walking, angels, and other mystic lore was something else. I felt, at times, that the writers of the non-fiction tomes I reviewed weren’t all together. Maybe I’m just not ready to go where they went? They went to some strange places though. It was fascinating and it compelled me to write on. What if these things were true, and what would that look like? That was a lot of fun, and I don’t think I had as much fun or freedom with the result as I did in that series.
If you’re interested in research and writing, I did a series on the blog some time ago about all the necessary pieces to it, with a focus on historical fiction. You can apply this to any genre by extrapolating the points. Find that series of articles here.
Now, hop over to the other answers to this question and see what else you can pick up from our hoppers. Click on any of the articles below.
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Stevie Turner says
Years ago we’d have gone to the library and pored over reference books, but now we have Google to help with our research. We have history at our fingertips, lol.
Captain Maiel says
It’s pretty amazing. I’m glad I did my graduate studies, too, because it totally trained me to optimize my research–vetting and accessing.
P.J. MacLayne says
I agree. It’s tough to figure out if the people writing about metaphysical experiences are for real or charlatans. (or a combination of both)
Captain Maiel says
Yup. It’s just all so strange, so how can we trust it, but I totally would love to see something turn out to be for real.
Lela Markham says
We are so subject to our confirmation biases that it is sometimes hard to see anything but what we believe to be true, even when presented with clear evidence that should change our minds.
That’s my experience with encountering ideas I don’t want to believe. And, yet, sometimes, I can’t ignore the evidence that exists. Ad I get older and look back, I see where my mind has changed and why. Some of that is simply maturing (Churchill’s famous maxim about being a socialist at 18 and a conservative at 30), but a great deal of it has been my own (sometimes reluctant) willingness to challenge my own presuppositions.