Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Faking It

Writers make stuff up.

For years that has been my unspoken motto. Research is boring and time-consuming but fortunately I write fiction so I don't need to worry about little details like facts. Especially as a lot of my stories fall into the SF/F/H bracket. If I'm writing about elves or demons or little green men then obviously I'm making it up and so obviously there's no need for me to do research.

But ...

Even if my stories contain elements of the fantastic they tend to have mundane, everyday settings. Settings that people will recognise and will know if I've got wrong. So some research is called for after all.

Plus, I always hate it whenever I spot a writer making a stupid mistake, often to the extent that it will spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the story. Unless I want to run the risk of alienating my readers in the same way I need to avoid mistakes. And that means research.

Also, I enjoy it when a writer manages to educate me on an obscure topic whilst simultaneously entertaining me with a well-crafted story. A lot of the knowledge that I used to impress my teachers when I was a kid was gleaned from reading well-researched fiction. There's a part of me that wants to write that kind of story so other kids can impress their teachers. Which means that, yes, I spend my time reading textbooks, trawling the Internet and picking the brains of people far more knowledgeable than myself.

Hopefully this means my stories are more rounded, with a greater sense of depth and veracity. They feel more real. And it's all thanks to research.

I still hate doing it though.

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