Sunday, August 09, 2015

Sunday Snippets #8/9/2015 #Sunday Snips

I spent my Saturday in Brea, California with the members of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America socializing over lunch, congratulating the RITA winners and finalists and discussing the business of writing.

I thought I'd share a a bit about the topic of 'crafting my novels' in this week's topic.

Research or Over-Research – So, Where Does a Connie Draw the Line?

Every writer knows even when writing a nonfiction novel: making it up requires research.

Storytelling means that the mind of the writer need to research never stops. Isaac Asimov once said he was writing every minute he was in the shower; in the shower, he was only thinking about his writing. In the same way, research for my novels has become a part of me.

Romantic Suspense requires its writers to be reliable witnesses. Contemporary Romance requires its writers to pay special attention to details which enhance the emotional connection. Biting humor/chick lit requires the writers to take contemporary events and spin them off kilter.  While young adult/tween fiction requires a lighter touch-- with a connection to the teachable psyche and the future of humanity.

Most writers try to strike a happy medium when conducting research, leaving enough wiggle room with reality to spin a good yarn. Yet research has a cumulative effect. Once you start, you don’t stop.
You can already guess where I fall on the research graph: once I start, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for me to stop conducting my research.

So, here are few of my research questions (Gumbo Ya Ya: an anthology for women who like romance Cajun): can a true gypsy (real medium/fortuneteller type) foretell her own future? What does a television producer do during the course of her day—when she’s key suspect in a murder investigation? What does it feel like to be on a pirate ship during the 1600s? Does time travel hurt? Bachelor Auction--what goes on during a Bachelor Auction? How does one concoct an accidental love potion? And, lastly, from my next “Fun and Sassy Fantasy” series: do gargoyles really know how to fly?

Remember research is not story. Trivial facts gathered from a variety of experiences can change the course of a future narrative.

Growing up in a career naval family gave me an almost inherent knowledge of the sea and maritime history. While residing in San Diego, California I visited the “Star of India” (16th century sailing vessel) moored at the harbor. My husband, being from Louisiana, made Cajun country and New Orleans frequent vacation destinations, and gave me ‘instant atmosphere’ for my setting. While I reside within driving distance of Hollywood, Universal Studios and the like, aside from a short internship in theater makeup technique, I am not a ‘go-to-person’ in all things Hollywood.

What am I to do?

I went to a local Starbucks, ordered a tall Pikes blend (1 Equal--yes I know it's bad for me, and a chaser of nonfat milk), selected a table by the window and plopped down my iPad, pulled a chair near my table and conducted a Google search. Alas, Google is not the Oracle of Delphi. My next step was to log on to the local library Web site where I selected related research materials and reserved them for front desk pickup.  This I knew, would not quench my search of knowledge.  With a heavy sign (knowing what weekday traffic was like) I decided to participate in a SoCal tourist day at Universal Studio (tour and City Walk).  I paid careful attention to all things visible during the freeway drive, my impression of the back lot and studio history.  I also interviewed employees and tour guides, and park visitors. Later, while grabbing a quick snack and the “Hard Rock Caf√©” I spied the red carpet being set-up for a movie premier.  Yay, pay dirt! A few more questions, observations, and a few interesting true stories (no names mentioned) told in passing, and I was good to go.

Will everything I discovered end up in my anthology?  Most likely not.  Have I completed my research on the above mentioned topics?   Since my husband frequently asks if my office is a satellite branch of the public library, I know if I’m not researching this topic I will find another point of interest.

Reading isn’t a spectator event. 

By reading you experience life.  The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

No matter know much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story.

This is what I, and every writer I know, works to create for a reader--a cast of characters who become your friends, and a story that leaves you clambering for a sequel! 

Happy Reading,


My fall release: BWL, Ltd,
(Books We Love).
Art work by Michelle Lee

Please visit the other authors' participating in the Sunday Snippets Blog Hop:  (Janet Waldron)              (Ginger Simpson)              (Tricia McGil)  (Vijaya Schartz)


Anonymous said...

Research is very important, Connie, I agree. That's one reason I don't write historical novels! Way too much work for me, LOL Great post. Shared.

Unknown said...

Makes me wonder why my favorite stories to write are historical research. Those require way more searching for facts than a contemporary. I agree that even the most recent facts are pertinent and should be accurate.

Juliet Waldron said...

Writing any kind of book requires knowledge, for sure. And many of us remember the times before Google. Writing historicals meant weeks in the libraries for me + begging my librarian to get me inter-library-loan tomes every few weeks. Coffee and Starbucks and laptop is a whole lot better.