Monday, January 26, 2009

The warp and woof of a good novel

In the process of writing my soon-to-be-released book, "Guardian," I did a lot of research. I researched pirates, treasures, the Middle Ages, the times of the Crusades, and so forth. To be honest, my book wouldn't be a book if I hadn't done all that research.

For "Guardian," I spent about three months researching before I began to write. I read online and bought books. I made phone calls and sent emails. I found forums relating to any of the topics I thought I might address in the book. As the book took shape, I found that a lot of the details in my story, a lot of plot points, arose directly from my research. When stuck and doing some free associating, different details from my research would rise to the forefront in my thinking, and voile! my writing dilemma would be resolved.

Even things I didn't think would be important, but that I researched "just to be sure," ended up in my book. Things like weather, like clothing, architecture, food and boating. Details of landscapes that I learned about from friends who sent me pictures, brought depth to my novel. Even the very first sentence of "Guardian," contains a detail of teenage clothing.

And now that I am at work on my second novel, I find that research holds an even more important place because part of the centerpiece of my book has to do with a specific craft (no, I'm not going to tell you what, yet). I am planning on visiting a couple of touristy type places in South Carolina and Georgia to see the master craftsmen at their work to lend authenticity to my story, and rich details that say "I've been there." These details will form the warp and woof of my novel and lend stability and depth.

And so, I'm pretty excited to see where my research is going to take me...and my next novel! I've got a first line written, but it, too, is secret at this time. But later, oh later, I shall share it with you. For now, I hope you're intrigued with that opening sentence of "Guardian," and my point of view character's words to his friends: "This is a secret meeting," Drew Newman whispered as he pulled his letterman's jacket close."


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Research can be a lot of fun! And you never know who you'll meet - I've had the privilege of corresponding with Cristy McKinney, coach of the Lady Tigers, while doing my research!

L. Diane Wolfe

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong lover of learning, the research stage of an illustration project is pretty sweet. Like writers, we have to get our details correct, too. Sometimes it's difficult, though, because finding just the right visual references isn't always easy.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

I usually think of research as a dirty word, but I can see how important it is. I may change my writing habits a bit. Thanks!


Helen Ginger said...

I've come to like the research phase. You learn so much and meet really interesting people.

Ann Parker said...

Hello Diane!

Tag! You're it! I've tagged you at

name six things that make you happy and then tag some folks and ask them to do the same.

Have fun!
-- Ann

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I just want to write so I find research a tedious but necessary evil.

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Sharon Reece said...

Pretty amazing to realize just how important this phase is. Even for our true story, we still had research to do about peripheral details. And after reading your post, I think we maybe should have done more.


Morgan Mandel said...

I don't like research, but it's a must-have. It makes a book more authentic and real to the readers.

Morgan Mandel

Connie Arnold said...

Research is important and can be enjoyable, depending on what you are researching. Hopefully you are writing about something you enjoy, which will keep the research from being so tedious!