Thursday, July 07, 2011

FICTIONALIZED RESEARCH

Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Book 1 done; editing book 2
Posted by: Genene Valleau


It's ironic our topic this month is research, as I'm doing that for one of the books in my series. My research process usually involves doing broad, in-depth research before I begin writing, then specific--and hopefully minor--research as needed while writing the book. However, this research may become more intense than I anticipated.


Like Paty, I research in a variety of ways. If possible, I like to visit the setting of my stories. In the case of my series, the town is fictional, but I visited the Eastern Oregon gold mining area where this fictional town is located. I also drew on my experiences growing up near a small town to add realism to my story town--but fictionalized, of course!


Character careers also develop from a variety of research processes. One of my heroines is a social worker. I worked with child welfare workers for nearly twenty years. A number of the heroes in the series are police officers. Part of my research was attending a Citizen Police Academy that offered a wealth of information about law enforcement.


Some people also suggested watching certain television shows, though I'm rather cautious about using that method unless it can be verified from another source.


I also do a lot of research on the Internet. Again, I try to verify the information from more than one source.


Fiction books also give me a good insight for how a character in a certain career might act or feel. It's also incredibly valuable to talk to people in the same career as my hero or heroine, say a firefighter, because their actions or mannerisms or how they respond to questions tell me a great deal about how this person might react to situations in my story.


However, research can only take a writer so far. Much to my mother's bafflement, there comes a time when I just let creativity loose and make stuff up. What I write isn't based on "real" people or settings. For me, that's one of the really fun parts of being a fiction writer!

4 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Good post, Genene. I agree, the best part of writing fiction is the fiction!

Genene Valleau said...

Yeah. I enjoy the most of the writing process, but when the story is flowing--that feels so good!

chanceofbooks said...

Great post Genene! I tend to research as I go too. Part of why I write contemporaries is that I don't want to get bogged down in tons of research. I've witnessed others spend *years* researching a time period/place without writing. My current hero is military, but not the same branch as my DH was. I just look up stuff as I need it. My heroine is trickier. I've given her a job that I know a lot about, but I'm afraid it's a bit boring (She's a PhD student). I'm tempted to give her a better dissertation topic, but I just want to finish this darn thing, then see how it feels. I did some looking the other night and her topic *feels* current, but still maybe . . . boring.

Genene Valleau said...

LOL, Bethany! What you consider boring may be intriguing to someone else. But I think you're wise to finish your WIP and then tweak if needed. You're getting so close!