Know-It-All: The Art or Plague of Research

POLL:  How many of you know what the 47th tallest structure is? (No googling, you cheaters).

I do.

Does that make me brilliant or lame?

I have no idea.

But I do know it makes me a writer. You see, I, like you, look for the smallest, seemingly inconsequential detail to breathe reality into my stories.

Or, I'm deluding myself, and my last month of ‘research’ into the tallest structures around the world and the effects on the body of falling off said structure have all been a waste of my precious, limited time on this planet?

Honestly I suspect the latter.

I’m all for research, as long as it’s for the book’s sake and not a means to procrastinate actual writing.

 

Example:

In my latest book, I found myself in the saggy middle, no idea how to write my heroine out of the corner I inevitably wrote her in since I never outline though I think outlining is a brilliant idea. So here I sit, my fingers on the keys, unmoving.

Crap.

Hmmm…Is my writer’s block a sign of early dementia? I mean, I haven’t written a word in over an hour. That has to be something, right? I jump on Google, searching for the signs.

I’m not a hypochondriac.

I’m doing research!

Maybe, since I’m here, I should research the shoes my heroine is wearing? I could name them in the book, show my readers I know my shoes.

Except I don’t.

So I’m not writing. So what? I’m researching!

Of course, what I really am doing is wasting my time on stuff that isn’t vital to my book. Unless shoes play a role, why bother with that level of detail? It is a way for me, at least, to procrastinate instead of doing what I should do and outline the rest of the damn book or at least the scene I’m struggling with.

Research gives life, makes worlds come alive (See this article from Writer’s Digest on how to use research).

But it is and always will be about the story.

No amount of research makes up for what’s on the page.

Or getting those words on the page.

 

BTW, read my next book for the answer to the 47th tallest structure. Hint, it’s close by. And if you’re interested, I’m still ‘researching’ the effects of falling off said structure.

Anyone up for a field trip?

 

What are you currently researching? Do you find yourself ‘researching’ instead of writing when stuck like me?

 

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. Books include The Junkie Tales, The Body Dwellers, CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope. Sick. Love. SHANK, Froggy Style, The Assassin's Heart, The Fairyland Murders & The Lady in Pink - Deadly Ever After Mysteries.

6 thoughts on “Know-It-All: The Art or Plague of Research

  1. I so enjoy your sense of humor, Julie! After years of indulging my love of research, I have finally begun adding Triple X to my scenes. No, I haven’t entered the erotica genre. I’m currently deep into my fifteenth century historical romance series. When I write and realize I need to know more about clothing styles or geographical features, I just insert XXX. He wore a form-fitting XXX, or they crossed the XXX river, heading for the charming little village of XXX. For those of us who love research, we recognize this is a big accomplishment, like a recovering shoe-aholic walking past the shoe store, keeping her finances intact.

  2. HA! Hand-clapping! That is a great place to be. I can’t wait until I get there. I have this OCD need to research it right then and there.

    Funnily, I have never thought to do that, to just type XXX so I can do a find and replace later. Thank you!

    Now why didn’t I think to do that…must be a sign of early onset hemorrhoids….Excuse me, while I look that up…

  3. I also love people with a bizarre sense of humor. I do use Janet’s XXX technique sometimes with first drafts, but now I’m working on revisions so it’s time to get the facts on paper. And that is why I spent hours studying a map of Arizona the other day when I only need to look up one little distance between two specific cities. I know a lot more about Arizona now, but I’m going to be a day late getting my submission in to my critique group.

  4. Good to keep in mind, Julie – that research should always be relevant to the story! Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to get sucked into different rabbit holes and lose sight of what will actually benefit the story! Love your humor, too! 😉

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