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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Lure of Research...



When it comes to finishing a first draft without tinkering too much I really do start out with the best of intentions. Then, of course, my internal editor starts in with the but…but…if you don’t add this important bit of information, which you need to look up right this minute, because…

I believe I’ve written before about being distracted by the “sparkly”. Research is a sparkly that I can’t seem to resist. Especially, when I’ve been trapped in the house by snow and falling temperatures and need a pleasant distraction.

My current WIP requires a basic knowledge of World War I and bootlegging. Basic, is a relative term. The time period fascinates me and I keep justifying the time spent away from writing because I need the information—for background. For a character the reader will be learning about as the series progresses.

As happy as this makes my internal editor, it ticks off my muse. She’s promised me a prize the next time I manage to write an entire first draft without looking up any information. I could use some new duds for the Romantic Times Convention that’s coming up in May but I’m pretty sure I’ve already blown any chance of making her deadline by then.

I joke about my attention span, but being snowed in for almost two weeks is not conducive to staying focused. The one thing I do feel that I’ve been accomplishing lately, is finding out why this character would behave the way he does. Because everything, from the price of bread to the length of ladies hemlines depended on and still does depend on what’s going on in the world at the time the character lived.

I tell myself that, in the long run, I’m saving time. I know; I’m rationalizing—but I’m looking for a good argument the next time my muse starts whining.  

Do you write your first draft without stopping or is your internal editor a buttinsky? Humor me. It will go a long way in alleviating my cabin fever and my curious nature.

Until next month,
Happy Reading (and/or Writing)!
Paris Brandon
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11 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Paris.

I used to get so deep into research I read reams of it for my novels. I then felt I had to impart all that fascinating knowledge to readers. However, when I re-read the first draft I was bored spitless. That's when I took all that stuff out and limited my research to what was absolutely essential and understandable.

I'm currently reading a novel by a well-known author who loves to put all that stuff into the plot. Damn, in almost every sentence there are words I've never heard of, stuff I really don't care about. I find myself skipping to get to the good parts - you know, the people - how they feel, the danger they're in emotionally and physically. That's all I care about.

G. Aliceson Edwards-YA Writer said...

This was a great post. I have been sharing the Midwest's snow everywhere kind of days for awhile now too.

I love that you get caught up in researching and think bootlegging and WWI must be some great reading.

I try to only do a little research to begin or I find parts of my books sound more like manuals than entertainment.

Being a retired teacher, the habit of trying to make every moment a teaching one is something I find hard to get away from in general and especially now that I am writing YA.

I have faith that you will find control of your researched facts in edits. Just remember that with all of this additional researched information in your arsenal, you will be even more prepared to be a fantastic Jeopardy contestant!

Paris said...

Thanks, Tina!

I do have to resist putting all that lovely information that I find so fascinating into the draft, lol! But then again, maybe that's where it all belongs so that I know what to weed out:)

You are so right, I read to become caught up in the world the characters inhabit, if an author can do that, I'm there!

Paris said...

Thanks, Goldie!

Yes, WWI and bootlegging have always held a particular lure--but I think it has mostly to do with how people managed to get through the trials of the time.

LOL! I never thought about Jeopardy but you might have a point:)

Katalina Leon said...

Paris, your new WIP sounds fascinating.
I love collecting research and I have to practice self-restraint. This is my formula:
For every gallon of research collected add only a Tablespoon to the WIP. : )

Francesca Hawley said...

You know me - a total research slut. LOL. I can empathize with getting lost in research because it's fun and it distracts you from the job at hand. But...my turn with the CP whip...GET WRITING! NOW! Grin.

Francesca

jean hart stewart said...

Good post. I research the period I'm writing about like made before I start a book. Get the feel of the period and then use very few of the actual facts. But it's sure tempting to pack more in.

Paris said...

Kat,

Thanks! I may tape your formula to my monitor, lol:)

Paris said...

Francesca,

lol! I really am going to send you something to read, soon:)

Paris said...

Thanks, Jean. I know what you mean. It's so tempting. Restraint is my new watchword:)

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