Monday, November 16, 2009

Research By Any Other Name...

I find that a lot of what is involved with writing this novel is research. Sage advice on effective novel-writing practice seems to be this: do all the research first so that once the writing starts, the flow is not interrupted by the need to stop and research something.

That is a good plan--to a point.

What I have discovered is this: as the plot and dialog builds in the course of my writing, it triggers thoughts and questions that I never realized the story needed before I started writing that scene. Thus, I need to do more research. I do not find these pauses to seek out additional details to be a distraction that interrupts my writing flow. The results often add depth and detail to my story that motivates my writing.

Many people dread research, but do not realize how much of it they often do as part of their job or their life. Whether it known as searching the files, digging a little deeper, "let me check on it and I'll get back to you", or a myriad of other things, it is research.

To illustrate my point, I like this scene in Aurora Rescue between Cy and the F.B.I. agent, Lee Hardin.

Cy gets fed up (no pun intended) with the agent showing up every day or two to ask questions. He especially gets annoyed with being called "Kid." He decides to find out as much as he can about the agent, and learns some interesting details about the man's past. The next time Hardin slides into a chair next to Cy at the internet cafe and goes through a round of questions, the conclusion of the scene goes like this:

"Well, you got my phone number," said Lee Hardin as he heaved himself out of the chair, "So, if there is anything you think I need to know, you call me, okay, Kid?"

Hardin turned as if to leave, then he turned back towards Cy.

"You don't mind if I call you Kid, do you?"

Cy looked directly into Agent Hardin's eyes with a straight face and casually said, "Not at all, Cowboy. You don't mind if I call you Cowboy, do you?"

Cy felt a surge of satisfaction as he watched the older man's head jerk up and his back stiffen.

Then the agent relaxed his body and raised one corner of his mouth in his usual lop-sided grin before he responded.

"Sounds like you been doing a little investigating yourself, Kid."

Cy lowered his eyes to the computer screen and started to work the touch pad with his fingers.

"In my field, Cowboy, we call it research."

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