Research, Research, Research

How important is research to you as a fiction writer? Do you do the minimum, just enough facts to get by, or do you become incapacitated by the research and end up accomplishing nothing?

So yesterday I started a novel, essentially a prequel to the novel I’m currently subbing around. Why am I writing a prequel if I’m subbing the other novel? I have no idea. It just wanted me to write it. If the first isn’t accepted by the time this is finished, then I’ll sub this one and the other will be the second in the series.

Anyway, stop distracting me with questions. Its bad enough that I distract myself. Basically, I spent several hours in research just to bring a little factual accuracy to my beginning. It opens with my character in class with a Greek philosopher. I guess I could have just pulled one out of the hat, Socrates or Aristotle or something, and gone on, but I wanted the teacher to be asking my character, who is caught asleep in class, a question. But what question?

Maybe something about the four basic elements. So I did some research to see which philosopher believed that, then I found there is a fifth element (like the Bruce Willis movie I’ve never seen), which is aether, the basic essence of space and the otherworld. That fits into my story, because my character crosses the otherworld to be taught by this teacher.

So the fifth element research turns into research on the Ancient Greek’s belief in astral projection. And the teacher evolves in Hermotimus of Clazomenae, so I’m doing research on him, too. Seems he not only believed in astral projection, but could do it. And, so the story goes, his wife was a little peeved at him and while he was out astral projecting one night she kills him (stories vary between burning his body or just plain burying it).

So when all was said and done yesterday, in about four hours time I managed to write 419 words. And to be honest, I still don’t think the philosopher nor the topic he’s teaching are quite working, so I’m going to have to do some more research until it “feels right.”




One thought on “Research, Research, Research

  1. I think this kind of research — especially at the beginning — is very important. Since it sounds like a lot of your story will be based on this, you don’t want to make things up and then have to change them later when you realize you were far off-base. AND, you learned something that fits well with your story, which you never would have had.

    For my book The Other Side I did a lot of research about the terrain where my MC travels through, as well as the US border patrol. I’m not sure how much of my research I actually used in the text, but I’d like to think the settings were more accurate because of it.

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