I am working on Book Two (which still has no tentative or working title. It’s named ‘New Book’ on my computer…how boring) and am elbows deep in research of all sorts and generally just happy as a clam.
I need a particular setting for a particular scene, so I’m researching to augment what I remember of actual being in that setting, which is all fine and dandy and fascinating. Except I realized I’ve just spent 20 minutes reading pages on QSTORM (Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy) and there is absolutely no way most of that information will make it into the book.
I’d always thought that “disciplined research” was having the discipline to actually do the research, but with this book, I’m finding it’s not letting myself spiral off into “ooo, that looks good” or “hey, I wonder what that is?” or “that sounds interesting.” Yes, there will now probably be a moment in the book about QSTORM, or something like it, but certainly not a long enough moment to merit 20 minutes of intense reading.
Even if it is wicked cool.
My first book, Right Here Waiting, was written mostly from memory — I’m a plane nerd, a WWII nerd, and a big band music nerd. And what I didn’t have a crystal clear memory about, I researched. I researched tiny details about everything, from the 8th Air Force bases in England, to dress uniform trouser colors, to song keys — and then I threw a great deal of it out the window. The style of the book demanded a certain style, a certain enigmatic or fantastical feel to certain details — in a Old Hollywood movie, they often didn’t give you specifc dates or places unless it was absolutely necessary to further the plot. “On a battlefield somewhere in France” or “Somewhere behind front lines” or “Europe: present day” — that’s about all you’d get.
But I had to know what I was going to be ignoring in the name of movie-style convenient plot points. And I had to have enough details in there to a) make the reader believe what they were reading and b) to satisfy my fellow history nerds who’d be reading it. (It would be one thing to write a story without giving any historical details. It would be another thing entirely to write a story giving incorrect historical details…)
In the New Book, I’ve given the main characters quite specific professions, of which I only know a vague amount — they are professions that I am interested in, so the research has been fun, but….distracting. And the plot itself necessitates some quite specific details to be laid out, which has been less fun but still distracting.
Basically, today’s writing challenge is to hone my researching so I am only researching what I need and not everything looks so cool I want to learn more about that.
Even if it is wicked cool.