Monday, July 18, 2011

Researching Before Writing

There are very few books, and I mean novels, that I haven't researched in one way or another before I started to write.  With the horse books, I put in years on horseback and teaching riding.  With Sweeps and Kate I worked in television.  For Renie Lake, I studied sign language (no that's not available as an ebook and never will be; that it was made into a TV movie is sufficient).  With Love In the Air, I had a pilot's license and watched as many WWI aviation movies as I could get my hands on, plus read a stack of biographies of women pilots.

Even if I know something about the subject, I want to know more.  I want to know the experience of other people.  I want to know the technicalities, the details, the background, the history.

I recently read a book that seemed to gather its research/foundation from what you could learn from TV shows.  And I don't mean The History Channel or like that.  I mean fluff channels.

For me there was nothing that rang true.  I kept feeling like "this writer has no idea what they're talking about".

There are three cures for this
1) Don't go there.

What if you don't know that you don't know?  There's no cure for that mentality.  If don't have first hand personal experience of it, you should research.

2) Avoid saying anything specific.

This is going to make your book untextured but it's your choice.

3) Focus the book on something else that you do know about.

Say you're writing about a fashion model and you don't know squat about fashion, design, the fashion business, Seventh Ave. or  even sewing.   You're in a right little fix, aren't you?  I don't know why you would think you can write this book but let's assume that thought hasn't crossed your mind.  Actually none of these thoughts would cross your mind in this case and you would just go forward and write it.

Ok.  Well, good for you.  Some readers won't notice since they know less than you do.  Now I'm going to say something really antiquated.  The reason for bothering to write a book used to be "enlighten and entertain".
Now it seems like it's more like "make money and make me feel good about myself because I'm so special".

I suppose this is another post that leaves half the visitors saying "What the heck is she talking about?"

Here's something from the photo shoot I did for my cookbook.

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