Friday, November 12, 2010

Decisions, decisions, decisions

We had our last round of workshopping in class on Wednesday and let me tell you, there were some unexpecteds out of that round. For me personally they mostly pertain to my story, so I won't share specifics, but one thing has come out of all of this workshopping that I wasn't expecting that I can discuss: me vs. research. BATTLE ROYALE!

So my story happens to be set in a different time period, but that was never really my focus. It's more the way the characters and the plot panned out that it made more sense for that time period, but I figured I could take more of a steampunk approach and build my own world. And I thought that would come through in the writing, the dialogue, and the storyline. Instead, I've turned into a research hound. People (at least my writing class) are considering this a historical. Why do I italicize that, you ask? Because it means research. And JEM is allergic to research. I also never intended to make this a historical; I just wanted to tell a story set in a different time period. But now everyone's all like, "What did they wear? What were the buildings like? What kind of food did they eat? Did they really talk that way?" And I'm all like, "How the crap should I know? I didn't LIVE back then, sheesh."

And I've been struggling with the next chapter all week. Every time I want to go somewhere, say something, do something, I sign myself up for a minimum of an hour of research, combing the hinterwebs for an answer to one line of writing. A body can't live like that, gentle reader! It's put me in a paranoid state of fact checking when I should be creativising (creative improvising, literally just made that up. THAT'S creativising, my friends). I had to come to a decision, and that decision is me vs. the research. I have to decide what will be research to help build the setting and the tone of the time period, and what will be me sprinkling my own JEM dust over the thing. And the instructor made a really good point: when in doubt, especially in the first draft, go with "me." After all, this is my story to tell, and it's fiction. If I want an alien life form to land in Victorian England, AN ALIEN LIFE FORM WILL LAND IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND.

So how do you decide me vs. research? What sends you to the research stacks and what sends you to your own creative juices?

P.S. My story is not about aliens landing in Vicotorian England. MAYBE.

6 comments:

Lola Sharp said...

Oh you have no idea how much I HATE research.

I LIKE writing what I 'know' (ish).

And, so, what did I do? I picked a plot for this nano-wip that I know less than NOTHING about, that cannot be 'Lola-dusted' (which, I agree with your instructor...and for a steampunky/alt. history world, you can do whatever you want. Ish. Especially for a first draft.).

And so, I'm hating this first draft. Struggling.
This has never happened to me before. Not like this.
I'm almost to the point of wanting to snail and write something else.
Except, I'd LOVE to READ this kind of book.
And I think there needs to be one.
And my CPs agree and insist I keep going.
We'll see.

Anyway...I feel your pain, sister. I feel it.

And when your pain feels too painful...think of me. It should cheer you up.
Think about how you can make them speak/eat/look at whatever YOU want them to...sprinkle your JEM dust.

And I cannot.
*sobs*
Think about how much smarter than me you are.
Laugh at Lola the tool.

I'd totally read your book...so keep going. Sprinkle liberally.

Happy weekend!
Love,
Lola

Lydia Kang said...

Oh, the joys and irritations of research. I hear you. I had to do this with my last novel and it was a constant search! Even researching if someone said, "Yes" or "Okay" or "sure" was a trial.

Fickle Cattle said...

I hate research, so mostly I write about stuff I already know about. I'm so lazy.

ficklecattle.blogspot.com

CATHY CHAPATY said...

A former journalist, I stick to writing nonfiction, focusing on what happens now, quoting from the speaker's mouth, and researching as sparingly as possible.

I agree with Lola: Sprinkle away!

Christina Lee said...

YES, the prof is right I think --go with ME (check stuff later)!

Anna Zagar said...

I prefer to research (please, no rotten tomatoes). I attended a workshop given by a best-selling author and she said it's vital. She said people will check up on you and call you out on Amazon reviews. She said the first person to check up on you would be your editor. My first novel, I had to develop a fake virus, THEN I had to develop a feasible cure for it. Talk about research. After I conjured up both, I sent it a to a biology professor for approval.