Research Rabbit Hole

Why can it be so hard to write a Romance novel? Or any work of fiction, for that matter. Once you learn the basics of Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar, plotting, character creation, world building, and the three-act structure for scenes and chapters, everything else is a snap, right? Pick yourself up from the floor where you fell while laughing. I know. If only.

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For my work in progress, Crazy for Trying, I needed to look at California coastal areas where my fictional town of Surrey Ridge could exist. Google Maps is addictive. Then I needed to find a place where a car could cross the median and hit oncoming traffic. I also looked at all the places where I have driven on the coast and remembered those days. And how one accident would have forever ruined the view for me.

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I’m doing on-going research into weapons and explosives, computer crime, stock brokers, and stock trading. I worked in the social service field in California, so I am pretty confident that those details are correct. Then I added a dad for Adam with Alzheimer’s so I had to look up advancements in that field and possible trial treatments that would help.

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When I first sent that manuscript to the editor who wanted it, I started working on the next book in the series, Crazy for Lying. That story takes place on a cruise ship. Did I have a lot to learn! I have never been on a cruise so I am in need of expert advice. My RWA chapter mates include some who go on cruises all the time. They have been very helpful. One of my Wednesday writing group has also been on a few cruises, so she helped too. My husband is prone to seasickness so there’s not much chance I will ever get to sail away.

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And there are some amazing things on the web about cruises gone bad, waves appearing out of nowhere and swamping a ship, people disappearing, and similar shenanigans. Lots of fun when my plot includes an art auction for charity, a retiring captain who really doesn’t care what’s going on, and a reunited pair of lovers who have an awful lot to sort out. Like Why didn’t you come back from New York? And Why did you marry my best friend?

Then we move on to the Regency novels. Oh, did that one stall too? Because we needed to research the overlap between Roman ruins and London sewers. In a very bad part of town. With the only exit being in yet a further worse part of London. Again, Google maps and online resources take a lot of minute examination. This is after having researched Napoleon and the war and the army and the mail and lots of other fun subjects.

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Research is vital to make your stories ring true. I remember having to look up colleges and proms because it’s been too long since I was that age and didn’t remember if they had them or not. They do, apparently. But once you start looking at the facts, remember to stay focused, on goal, and get out as soon as your mission is accomplished. Sorry, I finished reading Neil Stephenson’s Altered Routes and I’m seeing research as more of a Labyrinth than a rabbit hole. In any event, the bottom line is, it’s easy to get into and hard to get out of. Bring string and some beads.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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