April 24, 2011

The importance of research

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 12:35 pm

As a writer, one of my favorite things to do is research. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, research is easy, relatively fast and fascinating. What better way to get inside the head of your thirty-five year old male protagonist than by playing the games he spends every evening and weekend playing? Going to (or at least google streetviewing) the pubs on his street? Listen to the sociolect of the place he’s from so that you can sprout out believable dialogue using his jargon?

What was that? Make it up, you say? Sure, unbridled creativity is one of the joys of being a writer, but it’s no excuse to be lazy. When you write about places that exist in the real world, people will judge you if you get it wrong. So when it’s easy and fun to get it right, why not spend the extra half-hour? And most importantly, you don’t want to end up like one of these people:

Seriously, how annoying was that?

(Couldn’t get the code to work for the link, so you’ll have to copy-paste it into a new window. But I promise it’s worth it!)



  1. Charlie Stross wrote a piece on why wikipedia is a writers friend last year. Both his books and blog is worth reading.

    Comment by gaute — April 24, 2011 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  2. I fully expect to one day see a TV character strap on a full radiation suit and climb into a duct to “hashtag the Twitter.”

    I loved the article, but that quote above was my favorite!

    That aside, I agree with you on the importance of research. A very little bit of research goes a long way! When people forward me inaccurate information “FYI,” I frequently email back and say, “You know how long it took me to disprove that? Less than one second. See here.” I try to say it in a friendlier fashion than that, of course, but repeat offenders highlight that my strategy of research-promotion isn’t too effective. :p

    Comment by Deborah the Closet Monster — April 24, 2011 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

    • Yeah. Then there’s the trouble of too much research, also called procrastination. (I’m really good at that.)

      I like your tactic. I’m gonna borrow it. πŸ™‚

      Comment by nascentnovelist — April 24, 2011 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

    • There is also the excellent Let me google that for you service that lets you send a link that is basically an instruction in how to google.

      It’s the best answer to those mails where you want to answer that it tok longer to write the mail (or chat) to ask the question than it would have taken to google it.

      Comment by gaute — April 25, 2011 @ 4:12 am | Reply

      • It’s good having one tool to combat fear of research, but two is even better. This new tool was so fabulous, I had to share it with my officemate. We’re both delighted to have another mechanism to–we hope!–get people thinking first, sending later. Thanks for that!

        Comment by Deborah the Closet Monster — April 25, 2011 @ 11:25 am

      • I love this one! But I feel it’s too mean to respond with it. I dunno, maybe I’m too soft on lazy people. πŸ˜‰

        Comment by nascentnovelist — April 25, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

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