Wednesday, 26 November 2008

What's not to like?

Alis and David have both written recently about the things they find most difficult about writing. I am completely flabbergasted by Alis' issue with openings, and side with David slightly on the middles, but my biggest hurdle is most definitely research. If it was just one particular bit of information, then that's not a problem, but on the latest book I'm writing I need to know the ins and outs of Mexican gangs and drug trafficking (have a bit of knowledge on that already), European arms dealing circa 1999, the ins and outs of British local council operations and UK and international property law, healing time for a severed tongue wound, as well as the history of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Serbia during the Second World War. Oh and all about horses. Write what you know. Good advice. (To be fair, I know a little about most of these topics, but the local council politics is the thing I'm finding most daunting.)

So why not stick to SF, you cry? There's a whole other can of worms: heat- and solar-activated computers, artificial intelligence, nuns, cyber-gypsies and steampunks... It's the same problem wherever my pen takes me.

5 comments:

Fiona Robyn said...

I'm with you - research definitely isn't my favourite thing, unless I can trick myself that I'm doing all that reading just because I'm interested in eg the mental health system in Amsterdam... as soon as I feel 'ought' it isn't fun!

Tim Stretton said...

Neil - I can help on the local government side!

It's unlikely you'll come up with anything more bizarre or unbelievable than the truth...

Drew said...

I like doing the research - but then I find I edit most of the facts and things I have found out about out. Often they turn out to be boring to read.

You have to give the impression that you know them...

Or sometimes I just write how I imagine it to be, then do the research after and tweak it a bit. Unless you are writing a history of Mexican gangs people probably aren't that interested. Just throw in a couple of sombreros and you'll be sorted.....

Do Mexican gangs wear sombreros?

Aliya Whiteley said...

I'm with you, Drew. Make it up, then tweak later.

More importantly, did Mexican gangs wear sombreros in the 1950s? That dovetails nicely with the stuff I'm writing at the moment.

Seriously - I need to know about the sombreros.

Neil said...

Fiona, key questions is, would Amsterdam's mental health system feel like fun if it didn't feel like it was something you had to be doing? I suppose none of us would write something in that we really held absolutely no interest in.

Tim, I am definitely going to take you up on that. Will email in due course.

If it's of use to anyone, my Mastermind specialist subjects include dogs and dog training and magazine publishing.

Oh dear, Drew. I haven't included any sombreros. But I've a feeling the sombreros will solve all my research woes. I know it works for Aliya. ;)

So, can nobody help me with the issue of the severed tongue? I'm a bit apprehensive about searching Google for that one.