Monday, August 6, 2012

The method behind the madness

It's kinda funny that every time I start a new story, I realize how little I know about a particular subject. It doesn't matter if I can carry a conversation about said subject, the moment I sit down and outline, it either flies out of my brain or I discover that a working knowledge just isn't enough. I'm currently working on the outline for my cyberpunk series and for this particular project, the latter is true.

I originally started work on it in December of 2010. I was bouncing between four books back then and while I spent most of my time on my primary project (the YA fantasy), I worked on one of the others when I needed a break. I thought that I had all of the worldbuilding in place and the outline filled in enough that I could at least get started on the first few chapters. But when I read through my notes, I realized that not only had I left a lot unfinished, but I hadn't checked facts on a lot of the tech. In fact, when I realized how much research I'd need to do, I just about had a heart attack. It's going to take most of the month to complete the outline.

Now, I know a few of you are shouting "No! Don't get bogged down with research! Write the book and do all of that later."

As much as I'd like to, I can't. If the information I was missing was how much recoil a gun has or the average airspeed of an unladen swallow, than yeah, I could look that up later. But the things I need to check are along the lines of "can silicone even do that?" and "that's a great gadget, but how are you going to power it?" You know, essential things. I can't justify writing a scene, let alone many scenes, that rely on a gadget that may not even be feasible. It's a waste of time and creative energy. It's better to work out the details now. Besides, in the process of figuring all of this out, I'll gain a better  understanding of what can and can't be done with the gadget so I can use it more effectively in the story.

See? There is a method to my madness.

There's also a passion behind my madness. I mentioned back in June (Just the Facts, Mam) that I love it when authors do their homework. Now, I'm not going to spend two years on research like Diana Gabaldon does. I like doing research, but not that much.

You see, it all goes back to that oft repeated advice: Know yourself.

I know I have a tendency to do too much research and to even stop writing so I can look something up. That's why I gave myself the month to finish researching and outlining. This will force me to focus on finding the answers that I need so I don't get lost in the bowl full of deliciousness that is link salad. This is the first time I've tried this tactic so we'll see how well I actually follow through on this, but it should work because I hate missing deadlines.

Side note: I apologize for the irregularity of my posts lately. Summer is my busy season and I've been running ragged for the past few weeks. Instead of updating the blog every Friday, I'm going to do it on Mondays now. I tend to have more free time on Mondays so that should help me get back on track. Thanks for bearing with me!

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