Thursday, May 16, 2013

Research: How much do you do?

When I first started learning to write novels, I had to do a lot of research. I checked out even the most minute details to make sure I got the right. The problem with that was, it all somehow ended up on the page and made for some horrible work.

How much do you research? (and by the way, I am not talking about research on the act of writing, necessarily) - if you are writing a murder mystery, how much research do you do for the info you put in about say, guns?


I believe, in my honest opinion, that you need to know which guns will serve best to do what you are attempting to do on the page. Not every gun has a safety. They don't always jam. Some are not very good choices to bludgeon someone.

But research doesn't have to read on the page either. You don't need to tell me that its a deadly weapon, I know that. You don't need to tell me that your Glock was as black as death. I know that. But if you want to say it was a .45 and it fit nicely in a lady's hand, that's okay.

In other words, Murderers, tell me what I need to know, maybe focus only on a single thing, but don't kill me with your research over it. I want YOUR take on the situation, not Wikipedia's.

Now about that research on writing, and how to write...

3 comments:

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Some of it depends on the POV and the character--how much he talks about or thinks about his/her firearm, in addition to the type of story.

But you're so right in that 90% of the research should not grace the pages of a novel--unless it's your intention to bore the reader.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Kim. I'm going to tell the truth - I rarely research anything. LOL. Well, maybe for stories about historical figures or Seneca Nations, etc. But I just usually use the word gun and leave it at that. (hangs head)

Anne Trager said...

David Khara, the author of the recently released thriller The Bleiberg Project, gave a few interviews recently talking about his research.
He says he spent 1000 hours listening to testimonials from death camp survivors and reading about WWII because he "needed to get in the minds of both victims and criminals."
(http://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/04/30/interview-author-david-khara-talks-to-us-about-the-bleiberg-project/).
He also says elsewhere that he only used about 20% of his research.
For him, writing a historical thriller is a journey, and the research is part of that. (http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.fr/2013/05/writing-historical-thriller-journey.html)