Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Stranger with Research Candy

Currently Working On: A Sequel to My Current Proposed Book
Mood: Busy!


With the exception of one contemporary that is sleeping in the vault portion of my hard drive, I've always written historicals. I'm not saying the contemporary didn't require research, but nearly all of my investigative work has been for my historicals. The task has two sides. One holds the threat of getting an author in trouble for sloppy work. The other one is like a stranger offering candy: come here, little writer, get into my magic way-back machine and I'll take you for a ride. Read about wars, soapmaking, home remedies, horses, sewers, pigs running loose in old New York City, furious conflicts, how much a Sears piano cost in 1897. What wonders you'll see . . .

Yes, it's true, all of it. I usually start out looking for information on a single subject and that stranger with the candy doesn't bring me back for two or three hours because of the detours. I'll sit on the floor of my office, research books piled around me, sticky notes stuck, pens (when I can find one), tablets, all sorts of stuff. Once in a while it looks like I might escape, but find that I've only gotten as far as the chair in front of my other research accomplice, the Internet.


There is a wealth of information available now, fascinating worlds to get lost in, gobbled up by distraction. And to go into Powell's City of Books is to run the risk of never being seen again. Of course, while the writer is getting smarter (US History for $600, Alex), I'm not really writing. So there's the conundrum.

Beware the research candy, because oh, the adventures you'll have.

3 comments:

Jessa Slade said...

Research candy, yes... Leads you astray and can also rot your pacing, leave pimply welts on your clarity of purpose, and fatten your prose. Terrible stuff, that.

Delle Jacobs said...

Oh, but do I have a sweet tooth! I can spend hour upon hour in the Research Cave called Powell's, or deep in the latest book. I just bought William the Conqueror from my favorite used book seller, the son of a long-time friend. I didn't need it. I'm not even writing about him. But maybe somewhere in my wip which involves his son, William II, the one called Rufus, I will just happen to mention some little tidbit I found in ths book. Or maybe not. Maybe I just wanted to read it.

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Lexie!

Research candy is a very appropriate term! I don't write historicals and I still can get caught up in that very sweet trap.

Because who knows when you just might need some little snippet of "interesting" information. LOL!