In the Name of Research

Today I was in Walmart looking at pregnancy tests. Now anyone who knows me understands how strange that is. I have two grown children and enough white in my hair to make me bald if I plucked all those hairs.

I think the young gal who came up next to me (while I was reading the label on one of those pregnancy tests) probably wondered what was up, but we politely ignored each other, and she grabbed one and left.

Of course the reason I was checking out pg test kits was for the book I’m writing. This is the third in the P.J. Benson series and poor P.J. fears she’s pregnant. (Not the best situation for a single gal whose boyfriend is about to be accused of murder.) P.J., like me today, will be checking out pregnancy test and trying to decide which one to buy. (No, I didn’t buy one.)

One of the things I love about writing is the research. Over the years I’ve taken guitar lessons (Sounds Like Love, a Harlequin Temptation which is available through  Smashwords and soon Kindle), sat in a private plane and learned how to hijack one (Shelter from the Storm, Loveswept, available on Kindle) and traveled to a gold mining town in the Sierra Nevada mountains (Dark Temptation, Loveswept, available soon on Kindle). And, of course, I’ve read dozens of books about Ninjas, special effects creators, the Iditarod, wedding planners, horse whispers, barrel racing, and on and on.

Doing the research is fun. I know some writers get caught up in the research and find it difficult to put it down and actually write the story. Other writers find the research so fascinating they put too much into the story (so it becomes an info dump). Finding the right balance isn’t always easy, but after a while most writers learn that pages of research
might end up as one or two sentences, but that’s okay. Not only was it fun doing the research, but those one or two sentences will show you know what you’re talking about.

So have fun doing your research…but don’t get carried away.

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8 Responses to In the Name of Research

  1. I really love it when I’m doing research and stumble across something that gives birth to a whole new idea or character. Years ago I was reading a book on gambling in the Old West and read about a gambling hall owner who hated small coins. Every morning he’d throw them out in the street to a bunch of kids . I could just see a young boy diving into the dust to fight for his fair share because that’s how he kept himself and his sick mother fed. I got two books out of that idea!

  2. I used to hate research, but now I’m beginning to enjoy it. The task isn’t quite as daunting as it once was, lol. I love to learn new things and I always joke with my hubby that if I ever get lost in the mountains or in a jungle I’d be able to survive because of all the research I’ve done for my books! Let’s hope it never happens 🙂
    Great post, Maris!!

  3. Annette says:

    Wow Maris, bet you are unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. Research is one of the joys of writing for me. And yes, a person can get lost in it and forget to come back and write at times.

    But you get it done and we have your story adventures to prove it.
    All the best, Annette

  4. jillibooks says:

    I guess I’m one of those that can’t leave the research. It’s like a mystery to find out one thing, only to have to go search on a different thing.

  5. Maris, I’m hooked on research, so I truly have to be careful of info dumping. Not everyone wants to know how A.I. (artificial insemination) is done when breeding horses or what type of geological survey is done for underground water flow – I’ve used both in stories set in (where else?) the Texas Hill Country. I agree, finding a good balance in the story isn’t always easy, but definitely needed to keep the reader turning the page. Great blog, as usual.

  6. Diane Burton says:

    LOL over you in the drugstore. The most fun I had was researching all the things that could go wrong with a starship engine. Sure wish I could have done that in person. Did you know there’s a website called Wookiepedia (Star Wars info)? All the trivia you’d ever want to know about a galaxy “far, far away”. Enjoy the research. Looking forward to that next PJ Benson book.

  7. My favorite kind of research is traveling somewhere to learn more about a place I want to use for a setting. I also like looking for books that might supply an interesting bit of information about a setting or time period. Even with the Internet’s ability to take us almost anywhere we want to go, it’s still more fun to do research the old-fashioned way.
    Love the story of you in the drugstore. Don’t you wonder what that young girl was thinking?

  8. Donna Garrison says:

    Great reminder Maris. I think we all probably have examples of how not to do it from our own reading experience.

    Lucy, Of course we wonder. Let us know when she shows up in one of your stories 😉