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Stark Direwolf
June 21st, 2005, 04:13 AM
I cant help thinking a greater knowledge of history, warfare, astronomy, navigation, alchememy, mythology etc would add greater depth to ones work


Personally I have studied philosophy and political science so I am well grounded in those areas. But of the above the best reseach I can manage is a google search. And Im trying to avoid the reference of non fiction termonology in fictional works, but this is not always possible.

Anyone care to help out a person who's just started his first book? Should I do more research before writing further?

Jacquin
June 21st, 2005, 04:30 AM
Imho?

No, the kind of book I like to read is about the characters, not about the technical details of how to use a sextant correctly.

Write the book, if there comes a point where you find you absolutely need to know some details then you can research them. Either way actually getting words down on paper is a good way to clarify things in your mind.

J

Holbrook
June 21st, 2005, 05:09 AM
The trick is you have to convince your reader that your characters know how to use a sword, sail a ship, ride a horse, pilot a spaceship, dress in Victorian corsets :eek:

You research up to the point where you can "blagg" it enough to convince your readers your characters know these things. The devil is in the details, you need to balance story and detail. Explain too much and the story stumbles to a stop.

If your character is say a master swordsmith, you must write it so that the reader gets the impression this man knows what he is doing, he runs his forge like a well oiled machine, give the impression of men working, the heat, the smell. If it is important to the tale to show part of his work or something he is doing, perhaps he is working on something as he is talking to some one or the action is leading into a important scene, then do it, but don't use the details/knowledge just for the sake of it.

Paint the picture, but leave the reader to join up the dots.

MrBF1V3
June 21st, 2005, 09:48 AM
It helps to start with a pretty good knowledge base, and some specific research can be a good thing. I find myself glad I studied game theory, but like my cohorts (I can call you cohorts?) have more lor less said; Keep the background in the background, your story is about people.

For ex. I have a story about time travel. In my back story I have some pretty impressive thoughts about causality, leading to rules about what a time traveler can or can't do. None of those rules are a part of the story, but the story follows those rules.

BTW, does anyone really know how to dress in a victorian corset?

B5

michaelS0620
June 21st, 2005, 11:18 AM
Like others have said, I think its a "tip of the iceberg" type of thing. Your research supports the story, but the vast majority never breaks through the surface.

I think, however, that some well placed terminology can add richness and believability to a story. Nothing wrong with a paragraph about someone lining up a sextant properly. Throwing it in unimportant sidebars ("The first known usage of the sextant was in....") is bad because its distracting. Pages and pages of the stuff gets in the way of story as well(Melville, anyone?).

The problem with not researching is that you can overestimate (or guesstimate) how much you know. There are plenty of people out there who really do know a few things about swords or corsets or horseback riding, and if you're wrong about the basics it hurts your credibility and the story. This is especially true if the inaccuracy is key to the plot (e.g. hero gets out of a jam by fighting of ten people at once with just a sword, cleaving them in two with a single stroke).

The only guideline I have ever been given about writing that's yet to be proven false is that "balance is key". Deciding when things are balanced and when they are not is left as an exercise to the writer :) .

Expendable
June 21st, 2005, 11:24 AM
BTW, does anyone really know how to dress in a victorian corset?

B5
My question is does anyone know how to breathe while wearing a Victorian corset?

Inactorz, if there's something you don't know that's important to your story, you're gonna have to research it. But like Jacquin said, getting the words down is important.

Write your story.

butterfly
June 21st, 2005, 07:58 PM
In my opinion, if its a general thing (for example like a story of a character who composes music) but you don't show how he creates then you are ok. But if you have scenes where he is composing and he is using instruments then you cannot bluff your way through by not naming instruments. You would have to research the names at least and what the instruments do.

However, its your story and what you weave through the tale is up to you. The strength of background research will be worthless if you haven't put in as much effort to the plot or characters.





BTW, does anyone really know how to dress in a victorian corset?

B5

Very slowly! You cannot do it without help and sometimes its painful, depending on the tightness of the laces and the hardness of the frame but boy does your posture improve! As for breathing, you tend to take shallow pants, well I seemed to anyway! I came to a whole new understanding of feeling 'faint' but then again I was under lights and on stage...

transport
June 21st, 2005, 08:27 PM
I cant help thinking a greater knowledge of history, warfare, astronomy, navigation, alchememy, mythology etc would add greater depth to ones work


Personally I have studied philosophy and political science so I am well grounded in those areas. But of the above the best reseach I can manage is a google search. And Im trying to avoid the reference of non fiction termonology in fictional works, but this is not always possible.

Anyone care to help out a person who's just started his first book? Should I do more research before writing further?


After you've selected a subject for your book, read what you can about it. I handle research at the publishing company I work for, and research is important to writing believable fiction. Of course, that needs to be balanced with memorable characters, and background color.

I was recently involved in a project that dealt with characters out of Chinese mythology. Tracking down the better texts established the basic ideas behind Chinese mythical creatures and allowed for more realistic extrapolation.

Expendable
June 21st, 2005, 09:51 PM
After you've selected a subject for your book, read what you can about it. I handle research at the publishing company I work for, and research is important to writing believable fiction. Of course, that needs to be balanced with memorable characters, and background color.

I was recently involved in a project that dealt with characters out of Chinese mythology. Tracking down the better texts established the basic ideas behind Chinese mythical creatures and allowed for more realistic extrapolation.
Another infomaniac. Welcome Transport.

^__^

-Ex.

queenmegumi
June 22nd, 2005, 01:16 AM
Am I the only nut who actually LIKES research? I have a ton of books on different eras and love little details like how people greeted each other, and what kind of utensils they used to eat with. I like including these tidbits in my story. Granted, it also requires me to cut/paste a lot so I don't info dump too much, but research is usally how I come up with ideas for my story, or even how to clarify a point that I'm struggling with. It's also a fun way to develop characters (knowing that Greek hoplites used their right hand to hold their swords gave me the idea to make Diences left-handed and therefore against the grain in more than one way). But I may be in the minority here.... :p