Monday, June 27, 2011

Research

My DH is coming home today after a long absence.  I love the work he does, but I love having him home more.  The relatively quiet winter spoiled me.  He'll be globetrotting most of the summer, and he'll be away more than not.

At least I'll be able to go with him for some of it.  We're going to Worldcon, barring unforeseen circumstances.  I hope we'll see some of you there!

In writing:  I'm researching architecture.  Not just for Masks, but for a bunch of books.  The books I own on it (I hadn't gotten around to reading them yet) are fascinating and easy to understand, at least so far.  I'll review them when I'm done.  

Anyway, research is a dangerous thing.  It can halt a project dead.  Research and writing have to balance in favor of the primary task.  In other words, the writing still has to go onward somehow.  I try to get the 'short answer' quickly (as in within a couple of hours) so I can move onward, and then in the evenings I read up on the subject so that I can embellish the section later.  After all, though I love setting-heavy books, my main focus is on the human characters and what they're doing.  Unless one of them is an architect, I shouldn't have to know everything there is about architecture of my period (or fantasy setting) in order to complete a paragraph.  

There's always a chance that my research will lead me to changing whole aspects of the book, but I don't think it's wise to stop the writing process just because there's a chance (not a certainty!) I might have to rewrite some stuff (or all of it).  If the book really was that dependent on research, I should have done it up front ... and while I'm researching that book, I can be working on another.  I also have to entertain the possibility that if research may change a book that much, there might be a vision issue.  If the book relies too much on things that I don't know, then how do I know my overall concept is sound?  It would be like trying to write a book centered around a dinosaur planet without knowing much about dinosaurs.  If I knew what I needed to know about dinosaurs in the first place, would I really choose to write my book around a dinosaur planet?  Maybe it would be a better idea to write a book set on a world with dinosaur-like creatures, but they're alien enough that they behave like I imagine them to behave.  As our adventurers get into more and more trouble, maybe scientists back home trying to help them keep throwing their hands up in despair because as far as they knew, dinosaurs aren't like that.  And it could work as a story.  Isn't the story the point of writing in the first place?

Some books really do require research, and I wouldn't dare write them without.  But if all my book concepts require massive amounts of research, then I should ask myself if I'm ready to write books.  Maybe writing short stories in the meantime will keep my writing skills honed until I'm ready.  But isn't that a trap?  Maybe I'm not ready to write those stories either because they need research ... and I'd end up being a researcher, not a writer.  

There's nothing wrong with being a researcher.  I could put up an amazing website about my research.  I might even be able to make money through a donation button, or through selling articles as my knowledge grows.  And then I'll really be writing, though maybe not the way I'd planned.

It's all good.  Writing.  Research.  Reading.  Lots of reading.  I just have to make sure that I'm doing my primary thing, um, primarily.  Because, in theory anyway, that's the thing I really want to do.  Right?

1 comment:

Joshkie said...

The Research trap I know it well.....sigh.

I love learning new thing and discussing them, doing the fun stuff is easy. I've, sad to say, used most of my life as an excuse to never start anything. I'm working on it, but Old habits die hard.

Thanks for the inspiration,
Josh