Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pondering The Fun of Research And Icebergs

Summers are pretty hot and miserable here in Mississippi, so I've resigned myself with staying indoors, and decluttering the house. As I was cleaning out my office, I was amazed by how much of my stuff is related to research for various book projects. Dozens of notebooks, sticky notes, printouts of internet research--all ideas waiting to be used in a story.

I love research. I love the hunt for those tiny bits of obscure information that make the story come to life.

My current series Double Vision is all about the hunt for artifacts that have dangerous powers; the first book features a famous Leonardo da Vinci painting, which meant I got to dig deep into the man's life history. Double Vision is set in Paris, so I had to map his route, and refresh my memory with Parisian photos off the internet and travel guides, to get the details right.

Something I realized as I cleaned up all that paperwork is how little information I actually end up using in the book. Da Vinci is a fascinating guy, but much of his life history is not appropriate to a middle-grade kid reading a mystery/thriller like Double Vision.

But still. A lot of what made da Vinci interesting--his kindness toward animals, his tendency to start things but not finish them--that stuff made it into the book in small but (to me) significant ways.

 I guess research is like an iceberg. You need that pile of books and web surfing to find those nuggets that make up the tip. Or something like that...

How about you fellow writerly people? Do you enjoy research as much as I do?


  1. This post makes me especially interested to read DOUBLE VISION! I have no doubt that more than you think seeped in.

    I love research, although my first book did not require much of it. This time my research has been much more experiential, in order to get a handle on my setting. However, I certainly can see myself getting carried away one day...

  2. You might be right--it's the overall feel that is affected, maybe. Your research sounds more fun :-)


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