I’m late. So sorry for that. I have a great excuse or at least it sounds good to me. I’ve been lost. No, not in the swamplands of Louisiana but lost in my research. It’s truly amazing how you begin researching one tiny thing for your WIP and suddenly your in this time warp and it’s days later. This is what has happened to me.
I began researching about historical gambling card games and how my hero could win the shirt of this other man’s back (not literally but close). This turned into researching gaming hells and that took me to historical London locations. I had so many questions that needed to be answered.
Where exactly is this gaming hell? What are the transportation options for the characters? How long would it take to get to their properties (in London)?
And let us not forget the general inside the club questions. What are they drinking? Who would serve the? What type of layout is the room?
Can you now see how I managed to get lost? It can because a dizzy maze!
So I have a few recommendations in how to not get lost in the research madness.
1. Write down questions ahead of time. Making a list will help you get the answers you are needing and not get sidetracked.
2. Set a timer for the amount of time you wish to research. By having a time limit (and keeping to it), you don’t waste hours looking at topics that hold no relevance to your subject.
3. Read over your notes often. Glancing over your notes allows you to see if you have enough information. You don’t have to write a book to find what you need.
4. Take a break. Go grab a snack or watch a tv show. Then go back and read your notes.
5. Research with friends. You don’t have to be researching the same thing, but having someone there to keep you focused on what you set out to do will save you hours!
Hope the list helps! Always remember that research doesn’t make the story– the plot does. And if your research doesn’t improve the story, you’ve wasted valuable writing time.
Your turn: What tools and advice do you have for not getting lost in the black hole known as research?