Monday, April 11, 2011


Research is a part of my writing process.  Some of my short stories I haven't done research, but my novel I have.  Research helps me create my world.  I like to pass tidbits I find exciting along in my book.  For instance, I've learned about the arquebus.  It's the early model of a shotgun.  I found some of these weapons you can dump shrapnel or needles or other nasty items and the gun will shoot it.  Sounds more gnarly than a bullet.  The arquebus became a center point in my book and my main character's short term goal is acquiring one, hence I can share things I've learned about this early gun. 

Another thing I've learned about research is I've expanded my vocabulary.  My mantra -- Every.Word.Counts.  leaves me to find the perfect word.  One that will encompass the emotional response I'm looking for.  It can't be a word that is so rare that everyone's forgot what it means, but I don't want one so common and over used that it has no power.  While I'd like to think people look up words to expand their vocabulary, in reality I know many keep reading trying to figure out what the word means or just skipping over the word altogether.  For me that's a travesty because it's one of the ways I expand my own vocabulary.  However, when I'm in the throws of a book and I'm too "into it" to look up that word, I'm just as guilty as to power through the sentence so I don't take myself away from the fictitious dream.

Research has given me other ideas for books.  I've found a particular topic interesting.  At one point I have written down the ideas and if I am still interested in them after a month or so, I've pursued rough drafts. 

Research comes in more ways than one.  Wikipedia isn't good enough for college professors and it's really not good enough for me either.  I've Wikipedia'd but then I go to a history major to verify the facts (one of the fantastic things about Renaissance Faire is that the participant next to you is either an actor, a history major or both). 

I've Googled, but I get my real info that depends on fact from the history channel, history majors, or a museum.  That's great for history, but what about something like forensics?  It's a great way to take a class.  Yep, I talk to the professionals on that too.  Ones that have seen what happens to a body when it's decomposed. 

The thing is that people love to share what they know and what they are passionate about.  I don't rely on the internet.  I rely on those around me.  Those who've worked at it every day.  Those who study it.  I can get more from a conversation than I can from Google.  Try your hand at detective work--see who knows what.  You might find a walking encyclopedia out there!   

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