I am famous in my circle of friends and writers for the horrendous lack of research I do when I’m writing a novel. It goes hand-in-hand with my hatred for planning. Some things in life I believe have to sort themselves out – writing is one of them. That’s what editing is for, as far as I’m concerned (another task which I am famous for hating).
However, this hatred has been tackled by one Joseph John Clark, artist of Son of Songs.
I was very happy, writing away, creating chapter after chapter of dialogue and description, palming it off to poor Joe, who has to draw the thing. I think this is why finally I’ve got my head down and started doing some research – to help my artist. When it’s just me, I don’t see any point in confusing myself or limiting myself in terms of what can and can’t happen and what my imagination can overcome. A lot of my visuals and intertext, however, Joe has never seen before. I got all the way to Chapter Ten before I actually considered that I might need to do some research, and even then, Joe had got there before me.
There is this wonderful website called Dropbox which allows you to share files between two different computers. Joe set on up, and put pile upon pile of pictures in there that he’d found that he thought might be in line with what I’d written. To my utter surprise, a lot of things were very close to. There were some images I knew well that he hadn’t found, so I popped them in the file and sent them off.
This is probably the nicest way of researching I have ever found. It’s collaborative, and it’s helpful. I think I don’t like research because I feel it slows me down – I’m a sprint-writer, not a long distance. But looking back on a lot of the chapters, I can see how this is helping. I also fixed some info files about some of the famous authors featured in the graphic novel and sent them along to give Joe a feel for the literature I was working with.
We will talk about planning later. Research is a similar but very different beast. My main problem is not knowing where to start, then starting on the internet and getting bogged down with a lot of useless things. The internet is great when you know what you’re looking for, but there’s a lot of rubbish out there too, and I get bored with the sifting and sorting. Sometimes you have a particular thing in mind and can’t pinpoint it, and therefore can’t find it; other times you’re learning something new and getting jargoned into submission.
Libraries can be helpful, but again, only if you know what you’re looking for exactly. If you have a vague notion of something, it’s hard to find it without hours of painstaking reading.
I just want to write! Research is tedious. I can see the point and I understand its importance, but I think it’s better to get the ideas down first and add the detail later. That way, you already know how your research is relevant to your plot, but also you can put it in where it’s most needed.
I don’t know. What do you guys think?