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.