Friday, February 5, 2010

Research - How much fun do you have?

Cassy blogged a bit about research on killing people yesterday, I'm sure she doesn't actually go through with the deed, but that would be a good story--Author kills for research. Anyway I thought I'd tell a bit about how I research.

First, let me say that I love the research part of writing. I can search the internet for hours to the point I have to remind myself that it's time to call it enough and write the story. But man I get caught up in the information, so that's a bit dangerous for me and my writing schedule. Another dangerous research avenue is the library. Books, books, books and all chock full of fun knowledge. I could spend days there.

To save time I've turned to interviewing. In the past I've interviewed; a research assistant professor at the University of Utah, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, a Federal Probation officer, a DEA Agent, a martial arts expert and the list goes on and on. Currently I'm waiting for two interviews to come back, one from a Coast Guard officer and another from a marine biologist. And I'm thinking of a two part paranormal interview, the 1st with a medium and the 2nd with a ghost hunter.

I love this tool. I can use them on my blog, and it saves me from having to think of a topic. (Yeah I know lame) Another nice thing, I can share with others. But most important, I can ask specific questions of what I need to know for my story or stories. True its not as fun, I don't get lost looking, but it saves time. And the interviews are interesting and fun.

Do you like to research? Or is this one of the chores of writing for you?
Have a wonderful day!


SG Redling said...

One of the best parts of research is when you come across a little gem that is just what you needed even when you didn't know you needed it. It's like a little "ting" from the universe that you're on the right track. I'm impressed with your list of live sources. Just reading what you're researching makes me want to read your stuff!

Phyllis Campbell said...

Mary, I LOVE researching information. Because I'm a historical romance author, I'm on google quite a bit. I have found fascinating things in my research. Mary, do you remember telling you about my ghost story? Heroine is from 1912. Well...while researching the sinking of the Titanic, I found out that the first newspapers to write about the sinking wrote that ALL the passengers survived. (shakes head) How sad, isn't it? But fascinating, nonetheless, and I used this information in my story since heroine's father is owner of a newspaper company back in 1912. It worked perfect!!


Anita Clenney said...

Research isn't my favorite thing. I use the internet, although it can be such a time stealer. I'll be searching for one thing and find myself two hours later on some completely different topic...and sometimes I get so sidetracked by something interesting that I forget my original search.

Liz Lipperman said...

This is a great topic, Mary. I'm glad you kept it going.

I also love research, but lke you, I have to cry "UNCLE" at times. The problem is, I find everything so fascinating,I have to be careful not to overwhelm the reader with my "new-found" knowledge. I like the way Phyllis was able to use her research in the plot.

A favorite writer of mine,
Clive Cussler writes spy thrillers with the same characters who are part of NUMA (National Underwater & Marine Agency. Anyway, he uses clever dialogue to get his boring info across,and I find I can't get enough of it.

Liz Lipperman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great post Mary! I love research too. I can get lost on the internet, but I've never tried interviews or actual ride alongs. One day I'm going to, but right now I've just got too much on my plate. Anyway Great tools so thanks :-)

Mary Martinez said...

I meant to check in before now, but--believe it or not--I've been researching this morning and lost track of time! LOL.

You know Kari, I never thought about a drive along. I did do that when I was in highschool. It was for one of my classes. We drove through a park known for drug dealers, it was scary and exciting all at the same time.

Thanks for responding. Looks like the majority like to research.

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Research SUCKS!
That's why I push myself to come up with a great premise so the research is a quest I must do quickly and get back to writing.

I ask, would my readers like a great book full of interesting facts...or would they like four interesting books?

I guess it depends on the reader, BUT I would like Dan Brown to do a lot more writing than researching. I would have bought a book a month, and if he weren't trying to inject all his research into his stories, he could have written one of month for me.

Who are we kidding? We're in the entertainment business. We can either fight for a place on stage, or politely wait for a turn every now and then.

Sorry, I've turned this into a quality vs. quantity rant, but can you really quantify creativity?
Lesli Muir Lytle

Mary Martinez said...

You are so right about too much...

I love research, I get lost in it. But as an author you have to use it as a tool to make sure you're accurate without explaining everything you've found and read. You'll lose your reader. This is why the interview method is so excellent. You ask a question and get *only* what you need to know, not pages and pages. You can sprinkle as needed.


Cassy Pickard said...

Mary: I'm finally getting my computer set up here at our inn just outside of fantastic Mendocino, CA. The travel was long today; we counted that it was nearly 20 hours door to door. But the waves are crashing, the air is salty crisp, and the fireplace is crackling.

I decided that I'd make this trip a bit different. I purposefully tried to eavesdrop (well, nothing so different about that), find the adjectives to describe the lady's shoes across my airplane aisle, figure out what I would call the fifteen different shades of green that spanned the mountains and hills on our four hour drive up the coast. And so on. I know this is typical note-taking and typical processing for writers.

Today was somehow different. I tried to look at each moment, each person, and each site as an opportunity. Well, it certainly made the time pass.

Thanks for your great blog. I truly enjoyed it.

Mary Martinez said...

Sounds like you're in a beautiful place. It's dark and gloomy here.

I'm glad you're taking advantage of your senses.
Take care