I am not a fan of the research phase of writing.
It just seems to go on forever and has such a power to suck the motivation from the storytelling. I enjoy the kicking around of ideas to advance the story. The endless possibilities that are open to you dependent on which piece of the narrative you place on the page are intoxicating. What would happen if I used character X in this situation? What would unfold if we turn right instead of left? Should I remove a character completely to achieve a brisker pace? Research, not so much.
All of these questions and a million others are what makes writing exciting to me. The ways characters and events could unfold in whatever way as I lay down the narrative is fantastic. It’s similar to the Fighting Fantasy books I used to read when I was younger, the ones that you actually choose the route you take through the story by making the left and right turns as and when the tale asks you to. These books gave me the first chance to actually place myself directly into the river of the story and be able to nudge the outcome as I read on.
The power to choose the way a story unfolds added that extra dimension to time spent in a book but writing gives me the same sensation but is so much more. To truly have every last detail in the palm of your hand is wonderfully compelling. Not only can you choose to send the protagonist left or right at the crossroads, you get to create the protagonist and the crossroads as well. You are gifted the chance to write a story that you can love and feel utterly connected to.
My biggest problem has always been the hours of research of points and facts to make sure I’m saying the right things.
As I’ve said above, the chance to dive into the story and see where it goes is almost hypnotic but the need to actually fact check the locations and dates I’m using is that heavy bag you just have to take on holiday with you. Without it, the whole situation can be ruined.
Sitting and trawling through reference book after reference book, website after website to find that one detail which is going to add more credibility to what I’m saying is dull and makes me feel like the kid who has to sit in and do homework on the hottest day of the year. I know that those details are the important little nuggets which I need to hang the rest of the narrative from but they don’t half get in the way of just being able to run around in the tale.
But maybe that’s the whole point of it?
If you spend the time at the front end it makes the journey of writing the narrative more enjoyable because you know that everything you say which is based in reality is correct and will potentially be able to help any future reader to be drawn to a world they recognize. So much of my writing includes very outlandish situations and encounters so having the ability to ground what is being said in the real world will make the story that much more credible. You can just imagine reading that there are twenty pyramids at Giza, it would drag you out of the story immediately and lead you to doubt everything else.
As a writer, the research is vital. I may find it a pain in the bum but it’s what I need to create the solidity of what I’m putting together in the story. I know when I read and something’s wrong it does damage the feeling of the story as a whole so I’ll just have to suck it up and get sifting through the information I need to make the books I write the best they can be.
Wish me luck.