Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Process Examination #20: Research is for Revisions

One of the points of entry for the vast amount of suck in my first draft of THUMB is the lack of research I've done for the book. Sure, I've looked up a thing or two here and there. I've spent a small amount of time getting to know the current thought and research regarding ion propulsion, but it's not nearly enough to do anything more than put vague references to things that could happen in the draft. And it's going to have to stay that way until I have a completed draft. Same goes for interior design, small business planning, medical technologies of various stripes, intellectual property laws, non-profit org formations, and so on. The draft is just going to have to keep on sucking as my characters talk in generalities and my narrative skips important details to get from Point A to Point B. I have accepted this.

Why would I knowingly commit Suckitude? Given the way I learn and given the way I write, trying to research the topics I need for the draft would mean I'd be researching for years. I am so eager to study new topics and really dig into them that I wouldn't be able to stop when I got the information I needed, mostly because I wouldn't know if I needed this piece or that piece or both, so better to understand fully each. I need to research from a less general "hmm, what about ion propulsion?" point and from a more specific "my ship needs to get from this station to that station in this amount of time and have this sort of problem that this character can fix" point. It's the same reason why I haven't pegged down whether the communicators my characters use are external cell phones, garment buttons a la Star Trek, or bio implants. I have a general sense of needing communication technology that is omnipresent, but the methodology is not integral to the story at the moment, and I don't want to waste three months poring over details about the feasibility of implanted cell phone tech if it turns out it's not necessary for the needs of the story and/or distracts from the story.

This first draft is all about getting the right brain and the left brain communicating. The draft is the only common language these two sides of me have at the moment for this story. While the left brain would love to hammer out all of the details for how the ship works and the nitty gritty of each character's daily grind, the right brain knows that such details may not be important or might need to change. And if there's one thing that the left brain understands loud and clear, it's someone pointing out an avenue of inefficiency.

What I'm trying to do, though, is log what I think I need to research as I go, indicating where knowing X detail would be great to insert it into page Y for a better story. This method also strikes me a as a great way to cut back on telling and maintain the effectiveness in showing, mostly because I don't have a glut of details to insert into a story as I create it. Instead, I'll have a bunch of patches to make and holes to fill in the story with specific details I will hunt down later. Much easier to keep the research organic this way. Or, at least, that's the impression I'm getting.

Stay tuned for the Process Examination post likely to come later this year when I start doing all this research. I wonder what I'll be saying about "research is for revisions" when I'm actually revising.

No comments: