Monday, August 24, 2009
How far would you go?
We seem to be on a research binge. How far would you go to get the information you need for a story? Do you dig and dig until you get the answer or do you give up when it looks like it will be a lot of work? Especially knowing you may only use a minor piece of the information for the story?
I've been digging up information for two stories lately. I've borrowed books from the library, purchased used books on the subject, and I've sent out email feelers to loops and people I know to get more information to make my characters jump off the page. I now have some scholars in my address book and I've corresponded with experts on railroads in my area(and made a new friend) not to mention I joined an online group of Native Americans to pick their brains.
I've also cornered people for interviews, had some hands on experience with tools my character will handle, and walked as well as I could in the shoes of my characters.
After writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper in a town where the museum curator went out of her way to help me, I now have a standing invitation to do book signings at the museum.
Along my long and winding road of searching for the illusive bit of information that will make my characters and setting come alive I'm gaining a larger list of support people and new friends.
And volumes of notes either highlighted in books or scribbled on various colored notepads and stuck in binders.
How much of the research you do, do you think actually makes it into your books? And do you also feel that research isn't so much the words you put in a book but also the tone and setting you impart?