Illegitimate Research

For someone who spends so much of their time writing, drawing, painting, and dreaming, I seem to lack a certain creativity. Ideas come to me, on occasion, and I carry those ideas out to the best of my ability. But, when it comes to actually trying to ply my craft – to think of something to decorate a blank canvas or decide where a story is going to go – I am an empty vessel.

In light of that, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’m not much of a planner. My characters do what they want to do, how they want to do, & I let them. In my early endeavours I was often surprised by the things my protagonists got up to & never asked where my tales were going, I just went along for the ride.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. Research is essential to good writing, so many details – from tiny throw-away lines, to great over-arcing world-building – to pinpoint & refine. Authors need to have answers to questions asked & questions unasked – by the story, by the characters, by the readers. The bigger the world, the more science in the premise, the more work a writer needs to do, & it can be a lot of work.

For the most part, I do my research on the fly – I have a question, I go find the answer. If I’m lucky I’ll find it quickly enough & everything proceeds the way it’s supposed to. When I’m not so lucky I get distracted by wikipedia links & end up finding out a lot more than I intended & writing a lot less that I should have.

I am embarking on a new story idea. I’m not sure if it is by accident or design (probably a little of both), it involves far more research before beginning than I’m used to. But some types of research are worth more than others.

This new story touches on a genre that I love, but have never tried to write before. So with the excuse of needing to “research”, I’ve been spending hour upon hour reading TV Tropes, all the clichés to avoid, & the ones I can touch on without making my story awful. It’s been fun, but it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing, that’s for sure.

On the other hand, I have been trying to read more – reading is an essential, probably the single most important – weapon in the writer’s arsenal. With work and games and sleep and movies and TV shows and writing, it can be amazing that I have any time to keep up with just my favourite hobbies, let alone all the fringe hobbies I like to indulge in.

So, here’s to stopping procrastinating & actually getting the writing part done!

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