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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone else have this problem?

I am making progress on my WIP, but only 500-800 words a day. The main problem? I get sidetracked by all of the lovely, lovely research materials there are available online.

Do I need to know what was inside a Regency-era Lady's bedroom? Three hours down the drain reading about Brussels carpeting and the history of beds from "on the floor", to "on ropes with a wooden frame", to luxurious wooden cabinets, to carved four posters with heavy damask drapery, to lighter carved wood with washable embroidered linen curtains (ding,ding,ding--that last one, that's the one in the Regency bedroom)....and then, of course, all the other furniture too. I lied, it wasn't only three hours, it was most of a day. ::)

I won't even start on all of the wonderful blogs and pages out there full of everything I could ever need to know about Regency times. Why I feel I need to read them all BEFORE I write anything (especially since I already have a pretty good grasp of the time period to begin with) I don't know. :-\

I have characters swapping bodies, so of course I need to research if any type of witchery or spells exist to do that (don't want to torque off any witches by getting it wrong). Which leads to reading all about astral projection, and the body-mind-soul connection, etc., etc.

And looking up body-swapping leads to pages about cliches in body-swapping fiction and movies, which leads to the original novel that all such movies and books are based on, "Vice Versa or A Lesson to Fathers" by F. Anstey, written in 1882. So, of course I must download that off of Amazon and I'm going to have to read that this afternoon and evening. :p And the English major in me says to myself, "Self, surely that book wasn't written in a vacuum, surely it must have been based on some folk tales or fairy tales or other such things that involved body-switching...and you know you need to research those, too!" ;D

Arrgggghhhh!!!

All of this "researching", beyond a very minimum amount, is just a fancy way of saying "goofing off not writing." Right? I mean, I've never tried to write a novel before, so I don't know if I'm doing it the right way or the wrong way. I know "researching" is a lot of fun, and it leads to some great ideas...but it also distracts me from time I could spend buckling down and getting words put on a page.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you handle it? Do you think it is a problem?
 

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OMG yes I have this problem. In spades. There are so many detours that beckon. I could spend hours looking at photos of minerals under the scanning electron microscope. I mean, there's this amazing micrograph of an etched sand grain....

And then I'm off to a poetry site to look up the rest of "to see a world in a grain of sand"...

And then I'm thinking beaches and vacations and there goes the morning.
 

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I just want to say how lucky we are to have all this research at our fingertips. When I was writing my first romance, a historical set in colonial America, I had to comb through old newspaper clippings (fortunately my mom, a local history buff and writer, had a ton), pull dusty books out of the library and copy the relevant info into spiral-bound notebooks, and visit period houses (a terrific thing to do if you're writing a colonial romance and happen to live in Virginia, but not as feasible if you're an American writing books set in Regency England). This was back in the mid-nineties, and I'm sure there was an internet then, but I didn't have access to it. I don't recall getting an internet connection till 1997, and then it was slow and cranky and the family yelled at me because I was constantly tying up the phone line. And I'm sure the quality and quantity of information available online has increased exponentially...

Oh, yes, my point. Did I have one? I guess it's that yeah, research can be entirely too absorbing... but now at least you're actually wasting time on the research itself, rather than spending hours just trying to hunt down a single useful crumb of information. Enjoy the riches of the information age, and let yourself roll around happily in the freely available stuff that's out there. But take time to write, too, even if you have to force yourself to turn off the browser for an hour or two at a time to do it. Because you're right.. researching won't produce a book. Only writing will!
 

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Satchya said:
Does anyone else have this problem?

I am making progress on my WIP, but only 500-800 words a day. The main problem? I get sidetracked by all of the lovely, lovely research materials there are available online.

Do I need to know what was inside a Regency-era Lady's bedroom? Three hours down the drain reading about Brussels carpeting and the history of beds from "on the floor", to "on ropes with a wooden frame", to luxurious wooden cabinets, to carved four posters with heavy damask drapery, to lighter carved wood with washable embroidered linen curtains (ding,ding,ding--that last one, that's the one in the Regency bedroom)....and then, of course, all the other furniture too. I lied, it wasn't only three hours, it was most of a day. ::)

I won't even start on all of the wonderful blogs and pages out there full of everything I could ever need to know about Regency times. Why I feel I need to read them all BEFORE I write anything (especially since I already have a pretty good grasp of the time period to begin with) I don't know. :-\

I have characters swapping bodies, so of course I need to research if any type of witchery or spells exist to do that (don't want to torque off any witches by getting it wrong). Which leads to reading all about astral projection, and the body-mind-soul connection, etc., etc.

And looking up body-swapping leads to pages about cliches in body-swapping fiction and movies, which leads to the original novel that all such movies and books are based on, "Vice Versa or A Lesson to Fathers" by F. Anstey, written in 1882. So, of course I must download that off of Amazon and I'm going to have to read that this afternoon and evening. :p And the English major in me says to myself, "Self, surely that book wasn't written in a vacuum, surely it must have been based on some folk tales or fairy tales or other such things that involved body-switching...and you know you need to research those, too!" ;D

Arrgggghhhh!!!

All of this "researching", beyond a very minimum amount, is just a fancy way of saying "goofing off not writing." Right? I mean, I've never tried to write a novel before, so I don't know if I'm doing it the right way or the wrong way. I know "researching" is a lot of fun, and it leads to some great ideas...but it also distracts me from time I could spend buckling down and getting words put on a page.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you handle it? Do you think it is a problem?
Well, I can't recommend depending upon online sources, especially blogs, for research. They are all too often unsourced and inaccurate. How do you know they have a clue what they're talking about? Do they list their sources? Are the original sources? The amount of crap that is out there online is unbelievable.

I spend a lot of time on research since I write historical novels, but it is pretty narrowly focused on what I am actually writing. Of course, I'm also already extremely knowledgeable about the period and people which helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Don't worry, JR.  I haven't written a novel before, but I have a degree in English with a minor in History, and spent over ten years as a freelance writer of magazine articles before I became a full-time SAHM.  I know all about fact-checking and the difference between a primary source and a Wiki page.

That said, I'm not writing historical fiction.  I'm just writing a fluffy, fun little book.  I only need enough flavor of the times for it to taste authentic, which is why having a personality that delights in research is actually slowing me down, I think.
 

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Totally. It mostly happens with my academic writing (the research for my current fiction tends to be... less critical), but I'll often find myself on google books reading through half a dozen previews of different titles and making all sorts of notes. ;D

It's a real pain when I have deadlines to meet. I go in thinking "Oh, I'll just look up a source for X quickly", and then an hour later I have a page worth of notes and maybe one or two sentences I can actually use.
 

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MegHarris said:
I just want to say how lucky we are to have all this research at our fingertips. When I was writing my first romance, a historical set in colonial America, I had to comb through old newspaper clippings (fortunately my mom, a local history buff and writer, had a ton), pull dusty books out of the library and copy the relevant info into spiral-bound notebooks, and visit period houses (a terrific thing to do if you're writing a colonial romance and happen to live in Virginia, but not as feasible if you're an American writing books set in Regency England). This was back in the mid-nineties, and I'm sure there was an internet then, but I didn't have access to it. I don't recall getting an internet connection till 1997, and then it was slow and cranky and the family yelled at me because I was constantly tying up the phone line. And I'm sure the quality and quantity of information available online has increased exponentially...

Oh, yes, my point. Did I have one? I guess it's that yeah, research can be entirely too absorbing... but now at least you're actually wasting time on the research itself, rather than spending hours just trying to hunt down a single useful crumb of information. Enjoy the riches of the information age, and let yourself roll around happily in the freely available stuff that's out there. But take time to write, too, even if you have to force yourself to turn off the browser for an hour or two at a time to do it. Because you're right.. researching won't produce a book. Only writing will!
Yeah. I spend so much time looking at Google Maps to get a sense of geography, image searching places to get the details of what these places look like, etc. My god, if I'd been doing this twenty years ago, I might have had to leave my couch.
 

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Satchya said:
Does anyone else have this problem?

I am making progress on my WIP, but only 500-800 words a day. The main problem? I get sidetracked by all of the lovely, lovely research materials there are available online.

Do I need to know what was inside a Regency-era Lady's bedroom? Three hours down the drain reading about Brussels carpeting and the history of beds from "on the floor", to "on ropes with a wooden frame", to luxurious wooden cabinets, to carved four posters with heavy damask drapery, to lighter carved wood with washable embroidered linen curtains (ding,ding,ding--that last one, that's the one in the Regency bedroom)....and then, of course, all the other furniture too. I lied, it wasn't only three hours, it was most of a day. ::)

I won't even start on all of the wonderful blogs and pages out there full of everything I could ever need to know about Regency times. Why I feel I need to read them all BEFORE I write anything (especially since I already have a pretty good grasp of the time period to begin with) I don't know. :-\

I have characters swapping bodies, so of course I need to research if any type of witchery or spells exist to do that (don't want to torque off any witches by getting it wrong). Which leads to reading all about astral projection, and the body-mind-soul connection, etc., etc.

And looking up body-swapping leads to pages about cliches in body-swapping fiction and movies, which leads to the original novel that all such movies and books are based on, "Vice Versa or A Lesson to Fathers" by F. Anstey, written in 1882. So, of course I must download that off of Amazon and I'm going to have to read that this afternoon and evening. :p And the English major in me says to myself, "Self, surely that book wasn't written in a vacuum, surely it must have been based on some folk tales or fairy tales or other such things that involved body-switching...and you know you need to research those, too!" ;D

Arrgggghhhh!!!

All of this "researching", beyond a very minimum amount, is just a fancy way of saying "goofing off not writing." Right? I mean, I've never tried to write a novel before, so I don't know if I'm doing it the right way or the wrong way. I know "researching" is a lot of fun, and it leads to some great ideas...but it also distracts me from time I could spend buckling down and getting words put on a page.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you handle it? Do you think it is a problem?
There's "feeling of authenticity" and there's writing a text book lol. The novel I'm working on is partly set in England 1000 years ago. A guy in my writing group, who seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of everything, read it and pointed out the correct name of the currency they used then. Also pointed out there were no potatoes there at the time.

The potato I might sacrifice, but as far as money goes, I'm just going to say "silver pieces" or "gold pieces". Some details just aren't that important.
 

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I was reading "Hideaway" by Dean Koontz, and wondered what other people thought so I looked up the zon reviews. Seems some others didn't like his research on architecture.

Lesson learned: use research sparingly, and only to advance character or plot.
 
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I've done research on many subjects I've written about. The thing is that I finally have a formula for using it more effectively.

I started out by putting in too many details I read about, but that slows the story down since the story isn't about Byzantine porta potties. So when I included minutia that I didn't include for every item, the question became why? If the porta potty is haunted by the ghost of an artisan and it connects all the way through the story, then fine. If not, you shouldn't treat it any more specially than they keyboard, the lamp, the TV, or the kitty .... oh, well, no, you have to spend at last ten pages describing felines including any recent photos and videos you might have taken, but that's the exception and the rule. 

Personally, what I do now is do the research to make myself feel comfortable about the item or subject. This way, I don't have to stop and wonder if the protagonist could actually pull down a zipper since I know that zippers were invented in the time the story takes place.

For me, it's more about the flow.



 

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Lesson learned: use research sparingly, and only to advance character or plot.
Well, it depends on the book and the genre. If you're writing a serious historical novel, you had best do tons of research, and try to make it right to the best of your ability. A historical romance can be less loaded with details (depending on whether it's a "wallpaper" historical or not), but still, if you get your facts wrong, some readers will let you know. I agree that it's generally not a good idea to drop in paragraph after paragraph of facts unrelated to the plot, but some genres don't really allow you to "use research sparingly," either.
 

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I am possibly guilty of over-researching, but I like to feel confident that I have all the various details right and so much of my research takes place before I write much of the story.

Right now I am dealing with a Prehistorical period in which new discoveries recently made change our time worn and inaccurate knowledge base. I'd rather err with too much rather than too little research.
 

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MegHarris said:
Well, it depends on the book and the genre. If you're writing a serious historical novel, you had best do tons of research, and try to make it right to the best of your ability. A historical romance can be less loaded with details (depending on whether it's a "wallpaper" historical or not), but still, if you get your facts wrong, some readers will let you know. I agree that it's generally not a good idea to drop in paragraph after paragraph of facts unrelated to the plot, but some genres don't really allow you to "use research sparingly," either.
It really is a fine line with a historical romance. I know as a reader I would be entirely put off if a dress with a bustle showed up in a Regency romance because the writer didn't do her research. Or if the female protagonist in full court dress wasn't described with a train, hoop skirts, and ostrich feathers in her hair. But you're right that the overall amount of research is not nearly as daunting as for a true historical fiction novel. Nor are the expectations of absolute accuracy the same.
 

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Satchya said:
Don't worry, JR. I haven't written a novel before, but I have a degree in English with a minor in History, and spent over ten years as a freelance writer of magazine articles before I became a full-time SAHM. I know all about fact-checking and the difference between a primary source and a Wiki page.

That said, I'm not writing historical fiction. I'm just writing a fluffy, fun little book. I only need enough flavor of the times for it to taste authentic, which is why having a personality that delights in research is actually slowing me down, I think.
No insult intended. A lot of people really don't know the difference and the results can be ... unfortunate to put it mildly. Of course, I write and read "serious" historical novels rather than romances. There is some difference but it's still a good idea to take research seriously. Even a historical romance (not something I read much of for exactly this reason) I'll slam down if it tells me a woman in 13th century England was using a spinning wheel as a certain well-known romance writer did. Of course, she didn't seem to know that a knight riding a destrier down the street was about the same as driving a Sherman tank to the grocery store. But you have to have that Sherman tank if your guy is going to be all macho, right? ;) :D

It's a hard divide for me to make since in the genre I write, it's almost impossible to do too much research. But now I need to go put some of that research to work and write. :)
 

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ToniD said:
OMG yes I have this problem. In spades. There are so many detours that beckon. I could spend hours looking at photos of minerals under the scanning electron microscope. I mean, there's this amazing micrograph of an etched sand grain....

And then I'm off to a poetry site to look up the rest of "to see a world in a grain of sand"...

And then I'm thinking beaches and vacations and there goes the morning.
I do the same thing - it's like an attention deficit disorder for writers.
This problem only started with a science fiction I'm writing. Whenever an idea came up, I would research if the idea were feasible.
It is fun! But wow, sure can it kill time.
 

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I have to laugh because I am ADHD.  I am the QUEEN of getting distracted.  All day, everyday, I'm constantly telling myself, "NO, finish that BEFORE you start THIS!"

What I do to deal with the research distraction is I just force myself to stick to a certain schedule.  I first do alot of overall planning and researching when I am laying down the plot of the book.  Is this something that is interesting?  Something I know a little about but would enjoy learning more about?  What was it like then? 

Once I get a plot outline, then, I just start writing based on my outline and my already existing knowledge that I learned in the book development phase.  Then, when I come to a section in the writing and I don't know about it (say, I have to describe the house or bedroom), I go and look it up and read about it until I have a feel for it.  Then I get back to writing. 

That seems to work for me and my ADHD :D




 

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I love researching, but it is a giant rabbit hole. I've found that it's best for me if I stop when I have a good sense of the time/location and then any details I'll look up along the way.. BUT! The key to making this work is not looking up details as I write. Unless it's something major. All small details get a *note* in the text and I look them up later when I'm off the writing clock. This method has really sped things up for me.
 

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I write to have an excuse to do research. Otherwise, people might be unnerved by my curiosity in killing, knives, autopsies, forensic sciences, pickpocketing, lock picking, yubitsume, burglary, circumventing car alarms, sabotage and hacking, and ballistics. But when I tell them, I write suspense fiction, they nod and tell me all I want to know. The only drag is that I do have to produce a suspense novel once in a while to keep up appearances.
 
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