With the summer drawing close I am trying to start finding activities to keep boredom from striking. As a result I have been writing, reading, and of course watching massive amounts of television. At the moment I’m in the middle of a Castle marathon and watching the charming writer solve crimes has been an interesting time of reflection.
Castle of course revolves around Richard Castle’s crime fighting but also includes some of his struggles as a writer. Of course, the main reason that Castle is allowed to tag along for the crazy crime stopping adventures is because he is doing “research”.
As a writer research is a crucial part of the writing process. I remember first learning this when I was a young girl, and my mother and I were discussing writing. We had been reading the Spiderwick Chronicles, a tale of children chasing fairies and having many wonderful adventures. And I remember my mother mentioning to me that even with fantasy, a writer had to do their research. She used as an example the dumbwaiter the children used to get up to the attic. “If a writer didn’t know about dumbwaiters, they could severely mess up this scene, so as a writer goes through the book they have to learn about different things,” my mother explained. At the time, I thought this was somewhat silly. Could details really be that important? As I’ve grown older I have begun to realize just how important and tiring research can be.
Richard Castle follows detective Beckett around trying to better learn about the crime fighting system, learning what’s fact and what is merely fiction. It’s important to understand even the minute details and, with his crime fighting, Castle can better understand the aspects of life as a cop. I only wish I was lucky enough to get to follow a tough detective around to learn for my books. Sadly most of the time it comes down to google searches or a trip to the library.
But what’s the best way to research? Many writers do go explore their subjects like Castle. I have done some traveling in Europe thanks to my amazing parents and have been able to take away so much more material than I would have looking up French towns on the internet. But of course I can’t afford to go to Europe every time I have a question. And sometimes my material isn’t even easily experienced. The library, the internet, and experience can all be good tools in their own way.
I suppose the main thing is that writing takes diligent effort. It’s hard sometimes to make myself look something up, but in the long run, I am glad to have details right no matter how small they may seem. Whether it’s learning the history of makeup, researching the traditional Victorian flower language, or finding out if vodka can be used for disinfectant, I try to take the time to find out the truth.
What tools do you use to research or know of for research? How important do you think research is to a writer? Have you watched Castle? Just a few questions to get some conversation going. Let me know your thoughts! I always love to hear from my readers.