Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Research Sucks

More tips on writing. Yaaay! Okay, to make this a little more interesting I'm going to back track to when I was fifteen or sixteen and writing my first full length . . . fantasy. Novel. Story. A lengthy article of creative text. Whatever it is 15 or 16 year olds write. But no matter what age you are, just starting out always gives you that same feeling; The feeling of beginning fresh with a clean slate. And when I embarked upon this lengthy article of text (LAOT which it shall henceforth be referred as) which shall not be named, I had no idea how much research I had to do in order to make it seem authentic. Terrible a writer as I was, at least I was conscious of this.

Even for a completely fictional romance just having been conjured from my own mind, I quickly found that as I went along, there was an awful amount of research I had to do in order to make it seem like the main character wasn't just walking around in some half-assed, poorly concieved construction sight of a town. This also applied to historical facts in the story as well as physics, social conduct, popular myth, etc.

Sucks, right? Who the hell feels like researching all that? Not me. Which, unfortunately, is part of the reason why the story turned out so shitty.
(um, learning from my mistakes is fun?)

So anyway, do your research. If your characters are vampire, research vampire myth. If your main character is a rocket scientist, research what rocket scientists do. If your story takes place in a complete fantasy world of unicorns and elves, at the very least, research geography: such as the placement of mountains, the flow of rivers, and tectonic movement. Such knowledge will endow you with at least enough sense not to put a desert in the middle of a rainforest. Most readers probably won't catch this if you disregard it, but some of us will, and that some of us is more than enough reason to do the research.

Research gives a story--no matter how imaginary--authenticity. Realistic situations, dialogue, and accurate myth appeal to the audience, and provides an experience they can easily realte to and absorb themselves in.

Lets use Alice In Wonderland as a brief example. Never had I come across such an outrageous world created by any author, and yet there was still a bit of realism in there. But how so? The answer, at least in my opinion, lies within Alice's character. Alice is a little girl who behaves and thinks exactly how a little girl would. Thus, little girls (and kids in general) should easily be able to relate to her train of thought.

One of the ways Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) did this was by having Alice recall a big word she'd learned in school (latitude or longitude I believe) while falling down the rabbit hole. Through some inner monologue he then had Alice try to use that word in a way which indirectly related to her situation, but only so she could brush her own ego by way of saying "look how smart I am!" Yet Alice herself used, and admitted, that she had no idea how to use the word correctly.

This is something a girl of Alice's age would do. In fact, you probably know a little girl like this, therefore even if you weren't her age you could still relate to it.

Research is important, so research as much as you can about what you're writing. Readers aren't stupid and will not hesitate to call bullshit on subjects which purposely went ignored.

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