Welcome to another blog hop, from #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This is a really strange prompt for me; when you consider the timing. What I mean by that will become clearer as we progress. There are two questions in the prompt, the simple answer for me is; a lot and none.
A lot of people will be shaking their heads when I say none. I know that there are writers who research everything to the ultimate degree before writing a word of their novel. That’s fine, whatever works for you.
I disagree; not with the fact that you do it but the time when you do it.
When I started writing Sci-fi, I really thought that I wouldn’t need to do much research. After all, how could you research the future?
Off I went; as I wrote my first novel (before I got to the bottom of the first page), I found that it wasn’t the case. I needed to stop at least once a paragraph and look something up. I wanted the book to read like I knew what I was talking about. The last thing I wanted was a glib presentation of the future without logic or explanation. A then that didn’t have any recognisable roots in a now.
Research is important for any novel, even more so if you’re creating a new world. But you do have an important starting point. The world of today grew from the world of yesterday. Mostly it was a logical, linear progression, with the occasional flash of genius, the quantum leap if you like. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the world of tomorrow will be the same. Which means that you can adapt and stretch what we have now, adding a few leaps, such as devices based on technology we know a bit about but aren’t capable of using yet; like quantum mechanics, or fusion energy.
Just for fun, you can put in something so outlandish that it stands out, so preposterous that it has to be true. Of course, you have to remember the words of Isaac Asimov,
So, there I was at the bottom of page one of my novel, having spent a day or so researching the accuracy of the things I’d said in four paragraphs. Before I wrote another word; did I roll my sleeves up and started reading as much about science and technology as I could?
Sorry to disappoint you.
No, I didn’t; because my mind doesn’t work that way, neither does my writing. I slogged my way through that first book, researching while I went; fitting it all together, cursing every re-write.
As I’ve told you before,
I don’t plot, I just write and see what happens. Which means that I can’t just ‘do lots of research’, I have to be specific in my focus. There’s no less work involved, far from it, I merely do it as I write.
Which is where the timing aspect comes in.
I have a certain method of world-building, which I’ve learnt through experience, mainly the act of writing that first novel. It works so well for me that I teach it occasionally, in a workshop that I run in conjunction with a writer’s group that I belong to. It’s also available as an online course through my website. A while ago, it was suggested that I might turn it into a textbook. Having nothing else to do (joke!) I did.
Earlier this month, Creating a Sci-fi World was published. It contains my workshop, with some extra content. It also has the exercises from my online course and a few extracts from my novels. Plus a couple of short stories to help illustrate the ideas I want to tell you about.
You can get more details and a copy by clicking the link below the picture.
If this post has got you interested in any of my novels, you can get more details by clicking the Portfolio link. Or, to receive a free short story, The Orbital Livestock Company, just join my team of subscribers by clicking here.
I’d love to get your comments, please leave them below. While you’re here, why not take a look around? There are some freebies and lots more content, about me, my writing and everything else that I do.
I’ll be back on Thursday with another Showcase post, featuring an Indie Author with something to say. Please leave a comment below, then click the links to see the other great blogs on this hop.