Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time Flies When You're Doing Research

Time flies no matter what you're doing, doesn't it? Research always fascinates me, and I easily lose track of time.. I have to discipline myself or I veer off on too many tangents that don't apply to my writing, but that are interesting nonetheless. If not careful, I could waste days--probably weeks--on research.

We are fortunate to have so many research avenues available. Darling 2 (who is a children's librarian) suggests children's literature as an easy source for subjects that don't require in-depth knowledge. Children's books present a quick overview for adults with simple explanations easily mined for relevant details. Wonderful childrens books are available on almost any subject.

Remember when we had to visit the library to do research? Oops, I'm showing my age. Now all of us use the world wide web, convenient because it's always waiting for us. But beware--all facts on the www need to be checked for accuracy! Each of us could put a pet theory on a website with no proof whatsoever--and many people have done just that.. For instance, there is a website that claims space exploration is a trick to justify raising taxes and that space flight has never taken place. My aerospace engineer/rocket scientist Hero becomes upset--and puzzled--by anyone who believes that claim!

Why is accurate research so important? An obvious error stops the reader and takes him/her out of the story. The author has then lost credibility. Further research details come into question. I remember reading a well known author who made three anachronistic errors withing as many chapters. Now I don't buy her books. That's a terrible fate for an author!

My point is that research is fascinating, but writers must verify facts! Ask enough questions. Never take anything for granted without cross checking. Then, those tiny details hidden in our work will enrich the story without distracting readers.

4 comments:

Brandy said...

I agree, I hate to read a book that I know is factually wrong. It makes the story seem like the author doesn't care or that we are stupid enough not to notice, good post!!!

Cathy M said...

Hi Rebecca,

I totally agree with you. When I read historical fiction almost exclusively, I was more of a stickler for accuracy, but with more of my recent reads falling into the paranormal catagory, imaginative storylines let me just go with the flow a bit more.

Dawn said...

Great topic. I LOVE research. My favourite part of starting any new project is learning about the subject or location. I had once wanted to set a book in Lovelock, Nevada and took an impromptu trip across the border to do some first-hand research. Good thing I did - some things, like the round courthouse (which has a prominent role in the MS) - weren't easily found on line at the time.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks, ladies, for commenting.