Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Research! Research! Research!!
Unless you are making your whole world from scratch, you must research. If you don't, your readers will hate you for it. They will read over a section, and those in the field you're pretending to understand will sit there and cringe.
I don't know how many times I've read over something and just sat there shaking my head. It wouldn't take that much work to find out the details and make it correct. One little web search. One little trip to the library.
If you are writing about imaginary things, you get to make it up, to a point. A fictional disease can have whatever rules you want. It can take 2 weeks to incubate, then kill in 2 days. Whatever, no big deal. But if you're writing a REAL disease, please, for the love of Pete, learn it inside and out. Make sure your timeline fits the real disease. Make sure your symptoms match. Confuse the doctors by having something extra going on if you must, but make it fit!!
Even if you are making your world from scratch, you must know the details that rule that universe. Write them down. Keep them on hand for reference.
I say this as I edit my current book, and am tediously going over the details of a certain issue that happens. It needs to happen, and I need the timeline to be right. If I mess it up, I won't be able to forgive myself. Because as a reader, that kind of thing would drive me crazy! And I'm hardly alone in this.
It's ok to put place holders in as you write and research later. (x number of days) or (symptoms) etc in the place where the real info goes. Trust me, it makes those things easier to find and fix, later, upon editing. Having a general knowledge before you write is helpful, but use the parentheses to help with the tiny details you might forget. It's a good thing to double check later, at the very least.
Anyway! Carry on. But please, please, research. The more knowledgeable you are about something, the better you will be able to get it across to people. And that, my friends, makes for a good read.
pic: my kiddos, hanging out with books before school. "Put your books down, it's time for school!" is a phrase I never thought I'd say. But there it is. ;)