When I was in school, I hated doing research. Absolutely loathed it.
I have a couple of theories about why. I think a fair amount of that detestation had to do with being told what to research, and very rarely having an interest in that topic. Didn’t really matter what the topic was; if it was for school, chances are I was blatantly uninterested. Then there was also the research process: for school, we had to keep careful notes of where we found the information, what book and what page, and even had to be careful about how we wrote our notes so we didn’t accidentally write something down word for word without putting it in quotes. Irritating, and makes it rather hard to focus on the research. I think the biggest problem I had with it was that research was inevitably followed by a research paper.
I suck at research papers. Always have. Give me a creative writing assignment and I’m peachy. Give me a technical writing assignment and I’m sunk.
So I loathed doing research while I was in school.
Since then, however, I have discovered an absolute love of it. It started in my costume history classes. We didn’t have to turn any of it in, didn’t have to do more than show we’d done it, and the point of it was only to make our designs as historically accurate as possible. I got to bury myself in books of paintings and history, take notes however I wanted, and in the process learned some very cool stuff.
I know some writers who approach their research with deep and heavy dread. They recognize the necessity but it’s not a pleasure.
But seriously? It is so much frickin’ fun! The things you can learn, the way it develops into your writing and into your story, it’s not something to skip, and if you really begrudge what you have to do to get the info, that will also show. The research is such a necessary part though, as much a piece of the brainstorming and plotting as staring off into space and thinking about your characters. Knowing how long and how far a horse can go over different terrains, at different speeds, and carrying different weights will determine the timing of your characters’ journey. Knowing that a staggering variety of household products contain poisons can greatly affect your murder mystery. There’s just as much research to go into a fantasy as into an historical epic, too. You can’t simply put everything at the foot of magic. It doesn’t matter what kind of magic it is if you think claymores are one-handed weapons.
Learn to love your research, people.
So, in the interest of adoration, what is your favorite thing you’ve ever learned during research? The weirdest or coolest or just something that really stuck in your mind.
Inquiring minds want to know!
Until next time~