Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Anita's Attic: Research - Frustrating or Fun?

Forgive me if I seem loopy, but I've been up since 4:30 this morning doing research on Scotland for a novella that I'm releasing in November, and I think my battery is about to die. I'm not really a morning person. It's fun when I get a burst of energy and can get moving early, but it tends to fizzle soon, and then off I go for a nap.

Back to research. We all do it. Some people excel at research and some suck. I'm more on the sucky end of things. I love exploring and learning new things, but usually I end up going off on little interesting side trails that have nothing to do with what I started looking for. I get easily distracted. But it's fun, kind of like a treasure hunt, until I figure out that I've spent valuable writing time on the trail of treasure that has nothing to do with my writing or the initial question I started with. Take for instance this morning. I'm looking to find out what the Beauly Scotland area looked like in the mid 19th century. I found some fun, cool stuff, then I stumbled on a blog by this girl who married a Scot and toured Scotland. Before long, I'm looking at wedding pictures and cute bed and breakfasts.

I'm very visual and need an overall picture that I can use, but I also need clear, simple facts that form nice building blocks to hold the picture up. When I get back on track, I find sorting through the research to figure out what's authentic and how it fits into my story can feel like a big muddled mess. Did I mention that I'm terrible with analysis? This leads to a lot of frustration in addition to the fun little side trips.

I'm always intrigued by how much or how little research goes into a book. How do you research and how do you apply what you've learned?


Nancy Naigle said...

Oh, Anita, I know what you mean about getting side-tracked. It's like when a dog sees a squirrel and they take off with no mind to where they're headed! Squirrel!

Some research is way more interesting than others.

I'm doing research for the tie-in book to Out of Focus. It's Cody Tuggle's story and he's a mega-hot honky-tonkin country music star. I've got one of the most impressive lead guitarists in America helping me with that research and I'm having a ball learning all the inner-workings of that world.

As fun, and time-consuming as it is, I think the teensy bits of the research that ends up in the book is what makes it feel real and interesting to our readers.

I can't wait to learn a little more about Scotland (and I'd love to hear more about those B&Bs....squirrel!)

Thanks for sharing! Hugs and happy writing~

Willa Blair said...

Morning? What's that? I'm with you - if you get up early, a nap is definitely in order.

Since I've yet to be able to walk the ground, I've done a lot of research for my highland books.

Books on Scottish history and castles have been helpful, and thank goodness for the internet. I spend a lot of time following squirrels down a rabbit hole, to mix metaphors, but I've also found what I needed to give my books that touch of authenticity we strive for.

The next step: I really need to schedule a trip!

Anita Clenney said...

Nancy, ooooh, that sounds fun and I hope you have as much success with Out of Focus when it comes out as you've had with Sweet Tea and Secrets.

Anita Clenney said...

Willa, I so wish I could go to the places where the books are set. This morning I was looking at Google maps in 3D and it was amazing. Not as good as being there, but interesting.

Cozy in Texas said...

Maybe your next story could have a Scottish Bed and Breakfast setting where a wedding takes place!!!
I'm with you - I tend to go off in different directions.

Anita Clenney said...

Ann, that's a thought! I do have a wedding coming up in the series. I do get distracted easily.

Liz Lipperman said...

Like you, I love research, too. You can find the most amazing things out there. And the You Tube stuff is awesome. People are so wiling to share their adventures.

Can't wait for this novella.