Building up your repertoire of random facts will ensure that you are a hit at any party. Out comes things like: did you know that the Spanish newt, when confronted with an enemy, can make its RIBS puncture it’s skin…and then use those ribs to attack whatever it is that’s threatening it? No? Well, now you do. Please invite me to your next party, I’m a barrel of laughs.
Research isn’t really just being stuck in a library trolling through stacks and stacks of encyclopeadia or factual books. Research is also all about your imagination and logical thought and sometimes even illogical thought.
Gordy in Chapter 10 of Writing Bestselling Children’s Books mention how his teacher reprimanded him in school for writing down these wild flights of fancy and called them a waste of time. How awful and numbing is that? I for one am chuffed that Gordy didn’t bother listening to said teacher and continued with his writings! I am glad that none of us listened to teachers who have told us not to daydream, to write excessively and waste our time with words. How much poorer would we all be without stories?
But, I digresss from tonight’s topic. Research is important…but it’s more important not to let on that you’ve done a month’s worth of research on closed underground stations. I think the key thing is to think iceberg: only the tip will show in your writing, unless you are writing a conspiracy-heavy book a la Dan Brown in which you need a bit more exposition and explaining.
The coolest thing about research is that if done well, you secretly manage to teach kids and others something new and different, without them realising it.
What if you’re writing fantasy? Surely that doesn’t need research? Actually, you probably need more research than you may expect. Your world has to be real, it has to make sense. There are laws of science and physics and common sense that need to be in place. Your fantasy world inhabitants need to be people your readers can relate to or at least should be able to recognise. Even when using a pseudo-medieval setting, you have to be realistic and not unexpectedly bring in modern weapons or slang. It’s a bit like acting, I think: you have to stay in your role.
Good advice on page 43 of Writing Bestselling Children’s Books: If you get a true sense of the world that you’re writing about then you’ll be able to create a story that transports your reader to a new place and time.
And I’m afraid that’s all I have for now.