Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writer's Research

Happy Wednesday!!!


Today I want to talk about writing – sort of. As opposed to every day right! I love writing as do most of you who follow me.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the writing process there is a part of the writing where research must happen, sometimes a lot of it.

For a character recently I had to ask Lydia to do a post on her blog for Medical Mondays’ regarding a MC of mine who hardly ever spoke. I wanted to make sure her lungs wouldn’t be affected if she stopped speaking for a long period of time.

I read on Jennifer Hillier’s blog how she visited a women’s correctional facility and spoke with the warden to get a better idea of how the facility worked, all for a new book. (Click here to access PT 1 of the 4 part series as Jennifer shares what she learned!)

I was inspired by Jennifer. I didn’t think I’d have the guts to ask anyone to help me in writing a book. What do you say? What if they say no? What if it ends up being one awful idea?

I stuck all the questions and what if’s in my back pocket and decided to take a chance. My MC told me she was a wedding planner… problem was, I am not. I took a chance and emailed someone who was in the business and asked if she’d be interested in taking me through her process. Within a day she responded and was so excited!

Just like that I ended up being extremely grateful she said yes and she was over the moon that I’d even ask. Turned out that she’s a freelance writer and has always wanted to write a book! What are the odds? Looks like I might be able to give her tips while she gives me tips.

So have you ever stepped outside your comfort zone and had it turn out to be a huge reward? Have you talked with an expert for real details?

38 comments:

Nisa said...

That is so cool! A lot more fun than reading about it on the internet. (Though I'm sure that would be fun too.)

I haven't done this before, but now I'm wondering how I could. Who could I ask... It opens up a bunch of new possibilities. I did know a historical fiction author that took this a step further. He would actually DO the scenarios he put his characters through. Like what does it feel like to get stuck in rapids or ride horses as your fleeing from enemies. Etc. Very interesting!

Laura Pauling said...

That's awesome! You can always watch movies - I'm sure that's realistic. :)

I haven't asked anyone but I've read books and visited sites.

Misha said...

That's so cool how everything fell right for you. ^_^

Katie Mills said...

That's great Jen! With my first book, I contacted the co-writer and publisher of the only historical record for the place my MS was happening. He was so nice- sent me an autographed copy and was willing to answer any questions. I've been debating interviewing a real circus family for another book I have on the sidelines.

Pk Hrezo said...

How cool, Jen! I think most peeps love to talk about what they do. Now she'll get to ask you too. Super cool!!

Summer Frey said...

I have a friend who used to be a cop and is now in law school. Used to be my go-to for police stuff.

And fairly soon I'll be my own resource for nursing, I guess... :)

Siv Maria said...

Yes actually I have and was surprised at how gracious this person was. I was doing research on vegans who are allergic to almost everything. It never hurts to ask for help, the worst that can happen is that they say no :)

Janet Johnson said...

Very cool you did that! I haven't yet asked someone I don't know, but I would definitely consider it if the need arose. Good luck on that book!

Angela Felsted said...

For me, asking people to read and critique my work is a big step because I always feel like I'm burdening them. How sad is that?

Laurel Garver said...

Way to go, Jen, stepping out of your comfort zone! Going directly to an expert can feel scary at first, but like you I've found that people are almost always flattered to be asked.

I'm incessantly bugging people I know for help--the ICU nurse friend who got me up to speed on car crash injuries, the family counselor who helped me develop a grief therapy session, a psych professor who helped me develop a seeming psychotic, a British rector who gave me the lowdown on church careers in Anglicanism. I think I'm a little addicted to this aspect of research. It can be incredibly fun!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love research and I'm always stepping out of my comfort zone. That's what I love about writing.

For my upcoming WIP, I asked the fabulous Carolyn Kaufman from the QT blog about relationship abuse. Her answers resulted in me changing the ending of my story. Although the previous ending was fine, it didn't have the impact I wanted.

Chris Phillips said...

I've mostly used the internet so far. I think it's a great idea to use experts when you can.

Carolyn V said...

Wow. That's amazing research! I'm writing a dystopian so it's hard to do too much research in that field, but any idea I get I talk over with people and do some internet investigating. =)

Tina said...

Research is one of my favorite things. I love to learn new stuff. I've never written a book, but that's the plan! I'm visiting from the AZ Challenge. Congrats on finishing!
Tina @ Life is Good

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love doing research. I mostly use the internet but I do plan on asking some people for help when I start this one particular story idea. LOL I know that's really vague.

GigglesandGuns said...

I find for the most part people love to talk about what they do or did. I'm always shaking when I ask but so far have had no reason to in the end.
I've always been curious about wedding planners. I have to believe it's more complex than movies let on.

Theresa Milstein said...

It's amazing the things we do for our novels, isn't it? Lydia helped me 2x on Medical Mondays for this manuscript. And a few weeks ago, I interviewed a Cambridge cop who was slightly suspicious of my intentions. By the end, I think I convinced him I was not writing about a real life story.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Ha! That's awesome! Yeah, actually the MC in my new WIP has a very serious mental disorder and I've been speaking to two of my friends who happen to be child and adolescent psychologists. I stopped after my bachelors, so I knew I needed more.

Donea Lee said...

Very cool, Jen!! And SOO brave! This, of course, is the ideal thing to do. And really, more people will likely say "yes" than "no". Still...this isn't an avenue of research I've tried yet. I should... :)

Christina Lee said...

Awesome!!! Sometimes all you have to do is take a deep breath and ASK!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I asked the security guard at a Naval base if I could get on base to check out a setting in my book (he said "No, Ma'am" but was very nice about it). And guess what: He's writing a book! I kid you not. Writers are everywhere.

Candyland said...

That's pretty cool! Well, considering what my story is about, maybe I should get a hold of Matt Brady for a day in the life of a rock star. Yeah. Good idea:)

Beth said...

I studied physics to work on my current WIP, and since the MC hooked up w/ her tutor I made my husband take me on physics dates.
bethfred.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sure! I spoke with real fighter pilots for my story. And I never turn down the opportunity to watch a movie for research.

Connie said...

I once emailed an historian for information I needed for a novel. He was so excited to help and prompt too. It was a great experience.

Myne Whitman said...

Kudos on getting some support. I've never actually asked, I just look for such material where I can read what I want.

Jennifer Hillier said...

I'm so proud of you, because I know how hard it to ask somebody for their time. I always think they're going to say no, but in my experience? Most people do say yes. There's only so much we can learn from the web and from books -- sometimes we have to go right to the source. And I'm so happy you did -- your book will that much better than it already is!

Jessica Bell said...

That's really fantastic, Jen, that you asked for help like that. I haven't done such a thing yet, but I think I will have to for my next book. But I'm going to have to ask someone that's a complete stranger! :-/

Jessica Hill said...

That is way cool! I haven't ever done that type of research. Most of my research is done online. But I know I'm going to have reach out to experts with a couple of WIP ideas that I plan to start working on someday (hopefully soon). It's so nerve-wracking to even think about!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Ahem. I disrespected a fence at a historic cemetery to get close to the crypt where my romantic leading man was buried. My husband said that if they were serious about the fence, they should have actually closed the padlock instead of just looping it around the gate. But I was sure I was going to be arrested any second.

Jemi Fraser said...

That is so Cool!! I'm pretty quiet about my writing so far, but I hope when I reach out I contact someone as great as that! :)

Jennie Bailey said...

One of my characters is an Elf so I spoke to...no? Okay, rats. I have not done research that way. So far, it's been all online, but if I had a character that I needed to research for I would not hesitate. I find people to be very helpful.

Are you going to write up a blog post after following her for a day or two? That would be so much fun to read!

Liz P said...

Wow, that is really cool! I guess sometimes we just have to take a chance, put ourselves out there...

I haven't done this yet, but I hope if and when I do my experience is just as positive as yours. :)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I'm normally shy about this kind of thing too but I think if I really needed to know something for my book, I'd break out of my comfort zone to ask an expert. I loved Jennifer's posts about the prison and would love to get the inside perspective of a topic I'm interested in. :)

Kristin Rae said...

I was JUST thinking about this today actually! I'm brewing ideas about a girl with a fear of open water and I don't have the first clue about phobias and what they really stem from, so I was thinking of people I could discuss it with. Also need to talk to someone involved in rowing.. like row boats :)

That's so cool that the wedding planner you contacted is excited to help! Definitely inspires me to reach out to people--you never know what they'll say!!

Ellie said...

Isn't lovely that people are so willing to help? My motto is always, 'if you don't ask you don't get.' Kudos for you asking!

Ellie Garratt

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Oh yes, for Fatum I had to research weapons. A lot. It was a little uncomfortable but exciting:)

Rhonda@laugh-quotes said...

Don't you love when you take a chance and it turns out so well. Good on you for asking.