Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shorten Your Research: Ask An "Expert"

Is your novel stuck because you need time to research a particular topic, era, item, etc.?

Shorten the info-gathering time by asking a friend, colleague, acquaintance, or even posting your request on social media.

For instance:

About half of Ed Calkins' dialogue in the BryonySeries came from Ed Calkins himself: bits of conversation I noted or actual question and answer interviews with the sole purpose of developing his character, adding to the plot, and making his dialogue sound like Ed. I mean, who better to consult regarding a certain character than the real character himself?

The police questioning of the girls in Bryony following Kimberly's disappearance came from interviewing a relative who liked police dramas.

When I couldn't drum up a basic plot for the first book in my Cornell Dyer series, I asked my younger sons to do it, as they had grown up reading similiar books.

I can't envision battle scenes, especially battle scenes from another era, but I need them for chapter two in Kellen's Story. So I asked a friend, who wrote a great fight scene in his novel-in-progress, to do it for me. I left that part blank in the novel until he could get to it and kept moving.

My writer's block for the last chapter in Kellen's section of Before the Blood became unblocked when I realized the reason for the blocking (My mind couldn't invent a sci-fi-ish 19th century-ish medical machine), stopped looking online for ideas, and simply asked Timothy to invent one. It took ten minutes while driving to church last Sunday, with Timothy talking off the top of his head and me taking notes. And thus ended weeks of frustration.

Sometimes, a book or the internet is the best place to get the data you need. At other times, one need look nno further than the guy playing video games in the next room.

It can be that simple.

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