Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Research, Planning & Stuff

Do you use a thesaurus when you are writing?  I always forget or get lazy and rely on the Word thesaurus.  I have a wonderful thesaurus called “The Synonym Finder” that I love then kick myself for not using.  I also have a book called the “Word Menu” which is also very useful.  When I write, I want to be dead-on the first time around.  I will stop my writing to research a point or find the word I need.  What about you?  Is your first draft more of a skeleton of your final book?  Do you work out the details in the revision?  I can’t do that myself.  It is killing me right now because in my new WIP, I don’t have a name for my hero, at least a last name and title.  His cousin is nameless too.  So I put in some brackets and will have to go back and replace them.  But that really isn’t a big deal.  I don’t like it but I can live with it.  I’m sure I will figure out my names quite soon.

One problem I have is I get involved researching and loose track of what I’m supposed to be doing.  I might be researching textiles used for 18th century draperies then move onto something completely unrelated and useless to my current needs.  I’m not so bad with contemporaries unless I need to research a car, gun or shoes.  I have wasted hours looking at shoes.  But I like shoes.  Historical topics are tougher for me because I’m such a history geek.  

I’m a panster so I don’t plan ahead.  I can’t look at an outline and figure out what needs to be researched.  I’m also pretty knowledgeable about the big stuff.  But heaven forbid I need to research an architectural detail.  I spent almost an entire day looking for the proper name of a chandelier in the 18th century.  And that was for one sentence.  It is never a wasted effort, I generally can use the research for something else.

I’ve yet to write a story that didn’t require at least a minimum of research.  How about you?  Is research a bane of your existence or do you immerse yourself with alacrity?  I’ve heard writers say they prefer to write contemporaries because it doesn’t require research.  But is that true?  What do you think?