One of my author’s had an interesting topic on his blog the other day. So thanks J.H. Bogran for this idea. He spoke about the necessity of research in all forms of fiction if you don’t have intimate first hand knowledge of a situation.
He brought up the write what you know theory, and how you can make it seem like you are doing just that if you do the appropriate amount of research—and he’s right.
The Internet has provided many pitfalls to business, and artistic communities, but it has also provided some of the greatest benefits to artists since its inception. One of those many benefits is the ability to explore in a very wide scope, very quick, and very completely.
One of my favorite forms of research, although quite possible pre-Internet era, is so much easier now, it’s much cheaper now too, which makes it even better.
If I have a subject that I need to delve into with great detail, or have the background knowledge to write about it, details or no, without sounding like a complete fool, my favorite way to gain that knowledge is to talk to people who do know. People involved in that line of work, or that lifestyle.
Finding them can be a trick at times, but here again, the Internet pops up with the perfect solution. I google the topic. Find forums, or email groups that concern themselves with said lifestyle, or job skill, and dive head first in and announce my intentions.
“Hello, I’m a novelist working on such-and-such a story, and I need 1st hand information from those involved in the field of ‘whatever’. Anyone interested can contact me at email@example.com . Please let me know what your qualifications are, and if you would be willing to set up private chats via yim or aim in addition to any email correspondence as that would be a great help."
This method has never failed me.
Oh sure, you get some crack-pots (depending on the fields, or lifestyles you’re interested in) but you get a pretty good idea of that from their initial responses, and weed them out thusly.
I’ve had interviews that took place solely via email, and were quick send a form with questions, receive the answers, and you’re done type affairs, and I’ve had long drawn out messenger conversations that lasted intermittently for weeks.
In the past this form of investigation could cost quite a bit of money if the subjects weren’t close at hand. Even if they were nearby, it took a lot more effort, and time, not to mention most likely some money. Thanks to the Internet, none of those factors are an issue any longer for those who wish to use one-on-one interviews as a form of research. If you haven’t tried this form of research before, I highly recommend it. It’s fun, and very successful for gaining insight into unknown areas.
What’s your favorite type of research? I’m always interested in learning how everyone does this very important task. Do you prefer the solitude of reading about the things you’re researching, or do you like one-on-one contact?