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#FirstDraft60 Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research? #amwriting #nanoprep #nanowrimo

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#FirstDraft60 | KayeDacus.comWhether it’s figuring out where an event could be held, what the weather is like in a certain timeframe, whether or not your state has imminent domain laws, or specific details of an obscure battle five hundred years ago, you’re going to have to look stuff up. And what better time to do it than now, before you start trying to churn out 1,500 to 2,500 words per day?

We’re told to write what we know. But that advice is more about taking what we know and extrapolating it into other situations, rather than just about the specific things we’ve experienced in our lives. “Write what you know” is one of the most misunderstood instructions given about writing. Most people take it at face value, interpreting it as, “Write about only what you have personally done or experienced in the confines of your own life.” If fiction writers were to interpret it this way, we would eliminate entire genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical, and 99% of mystery/crime/suspense/thriller. There would be no Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk, no Luke Skywalker, no hobbits and Middle Earth, no Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, no Scarlett O’Hara, no Sherlock Holmes, no James Bond or Jason Bourne, no Superman or Batman, and no one would have ever heard of a man named Stephen King.

Figure Out What You DON’T Know
Hopefully, as you’ve been going through and doing the exercises over the past three weeks, you’ve been doing research as you go. For example, in trying to write out my heroine’s backstory, I needed to know where her father (a Royal Navy officer) could be stationed and what he could be doing as a spy/spymaster for the War Department during all those years. So I did this:
#FirstDraft60 Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research? |

Now, back toward the beginning of this year, when I first started working on this story idea, I knew I wanted it set in the months leading up to the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, one of the seminal Naval battles in the Napoleonic War. But all of the research that I did for the Ransome Trilogy was focused on 1814 and the short-lived peace after many, many years of war and before the final battle of Waterloo. A lot of things were different, not only for my characters, but also for the Royal Navy and for England herself in the nine years between these settings/events. So while I had a basic knowledge that the Battle of Trafalgar happened in October 1805, it was a surprising but decisive victory for Britain, and it’s the battle in which Admiral Horatio Nelson lost his life aboard HMS Victory, I didn’t really know much about what the immediate events were leading up to it or how those might work for my story. So, back then, I did this:
#FirstDraft60 Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research? |

Even if you’re writing a contemporary novel set in the city/neighborhood where you live, you’re still going to find that there are things you’re going to have to research. And it’s to your advantage before a marathon writing challenge like this one or NaNo to get as much research done as possible beforehand.

Assignment 1: If you haven’t already, add a RESEARCH section to your Story Bible.

In the Research section of my Story Bible, I already have a few pages:
#FirstDraft60 Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research? |

At this point, this is all just general research—topics I think I might need information on in order to write this story. But because I’m still deep in trying to figure out exactly where my story is going (mostly on land and staying in Europe vs. mostly at sea and sailing to Madeira and then Barbados) and what actual historical events my characters might take part in, I’m not necessarily sure exactly how specific I need to get with this research. Which leads me to . . .

Assignment 2: After reviewing your character backstories/information, your premise, outline, and everything else you’ve already created, create pages in the Research section of your Story Bible for all of the specific subjects which you think you might need to research—and start gathering research!

If you’ve already done some research, or at least gathered resources (like a bookmarks folder in your web browser where you’ve been saving links to websites), go ahead and add those to your Research section. If you realize that there are some important topics/issues/laws/historic details/etc. that you’re going to need to research, go ahead and create pages for them, even if they’re blank. Having them there whenever you look at that section will remind you of the research you need to do. For example:
#FirstDraft60 Day 25: Have You Done Enough Research? |

For Discussion: How much research do you need to do in the next six days (counting today!) before we start writing?

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  1. Shirley Taylor permalink
    Wednesday, October 26, 2016 1:03 pm

    Well, I’ve done some and I have some previous research that needs to be reviewed. In reworking my story I have moved it from 1818 to 1832, my hero is half-English, half-Greek and I’ve researched the Greek War of Independence extensively but it mainly factors into his backstory (originally I toyed with making it more central to my plot). I’ve also done some detailed research into forms of British police – something that I am not sure will even be a factor in my story at this point simply because I haven’t come up with a satisfactory reason/story point that it should…except in writing this I just maybe did and now need to explore that! lol

    Okay, now that I’ve written that idea out, I can finish here! lol

    I need to do a bit more research into Greek culture and take a quick refresher on a few things that are hazy now on London culture/society. Then I still have some research to do in other areas – like fashion and King William IV as these things are different though the still considered part of the Regency period – and all of it needs to get into my story bible! lol Currently working on finishing up Day 20 assignment and therein Day 23 as well so I can work on Day 24 and 25. I am trying to get everything done and use our last Saturday of catch-up as the day I put everything into my story bible (well, everything that I need to copy from my long-hand notebook lol).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wednesday, October 26, 2016 1:43 pm

      I’m absolutely fascinated with this idea/setting of yours. I don’t know anything about this period of Greek history, so bringing that aspect in makes your premise unique right from the get-go! But I don’t envy you having to try to find research resources on several obscure eras/events.


      • Shirley Taylor permalink
        Wednesday, October 26, 2016 1:59 pm

        I’m glad you find it so! I’m finding it that way as well. Fortunately, because of my past attempts to write and the lasting desire I collect books that I consider to be a “writing resource” like children collect germs (my oldest daughter is currently on her 3rd cold on top of a cold, my toddler seems to be resisting her 3rd but isn’t sleeping great as a result and I’m almost symptom free of my cold except for a nagging cough). But, while I have tomes on fashion through the ages I have very little on Greek history (though plenty of their mythology lol) so I found my research fascinating, especially learning that Lord Byron actually funded and assisted the Greeks in their freedom efforts until he fell ill and died – completely changed my perception of him!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Wednesday, October 26, 2016 2:05 pm

          If you have a Greek Orthodox church in your city—or a nearby larger city—try contacting them. They may have people in their congregation who have resources that might not be readily available elsewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Shirley Taylor permalink
          Wednesday, October 26, 2016 3:44 pm

          Unfortunately nothing close for any sort of Orthodox church – I used to drive right by one (and their annual Greek festival too) every time I went to visit my sister before we moved out of the Vancouver area – we’re now 1000+km north of there in my hubby’s hometown and close to mine. 🙂 However, I will do a library search. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Wednesday, October 26, 2016 3:47 pm

          You can always try contacting one in the Vancouver area online. Even if you can’t meet with someone face to face, you might still be able to get some information. If nothing else, they might be able to give you some book titles/authors to look up!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Shirley Taylor permalink
    Wednesday, October 26, 2016 5:54 pm

    Great idea, thanks! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Carol permalink
    Wednesday, October 26, 2016 6:20 pm

    So, I set up a research tab in my story bible from the beginning. I do have several things I need to research over the next several days-SAR training, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring, basic forest survival skills. Yeah, nothing much-LOL! But, I can get through the first draft with a basic understanding of each. I’m sure there are points I’ll need to research more in depth in the revision stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sunday, October 30, 2016 4:43 pm

    Is it wrong to say that most of my research was done via ghost hunting shows that I’ve been watching (nearly religiously) since I decided to try this story again? When it comes to ghost hunting tools, there’s nothing like watching them in use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sunday, October 30, 2016 5:46 pm

      Is it wrong that some of my “research” this week has been binge-watching Season 1 of The Flash because Rick Cosnett, the template for my hero, is in it? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:39 pm

        I LOVE The Flash. I need to watch this season after the premiere (only one I’ve seen so far).


  5. Sunday, October 30, 2016 5:51 pm

    My writing time this afternoon has been consumed with researching all of the historical events my heroine (who’s going by her spy name, White Falcon, as I write about her these days) could have been involved with. I just looked up at the top of my browser and noticed how many tabs I have open…

    Liked by 1 person


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