Research and Writing

What a week! I have been avidly working on a research paper for my Shakespeare class for a week and a half now. I had to read an entire book, spend countless hours looking up information, and writing and re-writing.

It reminded me of all the research I did when I was writing my first book. The novel took place in 1880, so I had to look up everything. I needed to know how they dressed and talked. I needed to know popular names for the time period. I also needed to know what were popular professions. I even had to know how Lizzie would have worn her hair in order to note every detail. Whatever ideas I had about my characters had to fit in with the truth about society during that time.

I had notes on random sheets of paper, in several differnt notebooks, and even a few on a computer file. The entire process became total chaos. It's a lot harder to write what you don't know, but it's so much fun learning about the world that you are hoping to create.

When you were in college, were research papers fun or torture? For me, it depends on what I'm writing about. I love to try and bring up something new and unusual and then argue my point. But it has to be something I'm passionate about. I think it's the same way with novels. We have to be passionate about our projects, enough to work on them diligently, day and night, until every last detail is figured out.

That brings me to my question - Do writers have to become professional researchers?


Ivana Watkins said...

Awesome post... with lots of good questions. Just like you indicated, if I am passionate about the subject then I have a lot of fun researching. However, sometimes I have the tendency to go too deep if I'm really interested in the matter... so it gets hard to separate what's really important for my work from what I find interesting just 'cause.

Vanessa K. Eccles said...

Ivana- I can totally see your point. I struggled with the same thing. There has to be a balance in all things, I suppose.

Talia Jager said...

I write a lot about teens with medical problems, so I have to do a lot of research into these medical problems. I find myself on professional medical websites as well as forums for people with whatever medical problem my MC has (brain injury, epilepsy, heart defect, etc).

I don't particularly like doing the research, but I'm not a genius, nor do I have a photographic memory - I wish I did - so I have to do the research.

Sometimes I have to sort through all the information to figure out what I should or shouldn't use. It's hard making that decision.