Go Back   Digital Webbing Forums > Hosted Forums > ComixTribe > Bolts & Nuts

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-10-2014, 10:31 PM   #1
Steven Forbes
Freelance Editor
 
Steven Forbes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: In the moment
Posts: 3,888
Steven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud of

B&N Week 181: How Much Research Should You Do On A Topic?


Welcome to another Tuesday! That means itís time for me to ask a question, in the Bolts & Nuts tradition!

How much research should you do on a topic?

I am not going to lie: I hate research. Iíve always hated research. Research and I have been arch enemies since I was introduced to the word back in elementary school. Why? Because when youíre forced to do it, research is very boring and dry. Quite often, weíre not interested in the subjects that weíre forced to research. Get some facts, store it long enough to regurgitate it in a cogent manner, and then forget about it.

However, when youíre passionate about a subject, you can then wax poetic about it for hours on end. With me, itís comic books and movies, as well as some cartoons. When did Columbus sail the ocean blue? I donít remember, and I donít care to, because it doesnít impact my every day life. Why are we living in America instead of Columbia? Amerigo Vespucci. Almost no one knows his name, because Columbus gets the credit for sailing, trying to find a new way to get to the Indies. I donít care about Columbus, but a friend of mine does, going back to stuff she read while she was in elementary school.

Now, when you start researching things youíre passionate about, you find yourself asking all kinds of questions. One question leads to another, which leads to another, and down the rabbit hole you go.

Click here to read more.
__________________
Learn to make comics at ComixTribe! Be part of the Tribe!
E-Mail me for your editing needs. Twitter: @stevedforbes
"Criticism is an acknowledgment of your ability to produce results." David Gerrold
Steven Forbes is offline   Reply With Quote
Connect With Facebook to "Like" This Thread

Old 06-11-2014, 01:54 PM   #2
Newt
Registered User
 
Newt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 5,042
Newt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant future

This column could be written just for me. Through a combination of personal inclination and training (I have a degree in biology), I do inordinate amounts of research for everything I attempt to write. Often I get so bogged down in research I can never get the actual story moving.

Recently, in an attempt to get around this issue, I gave myself a writing assignment: write an origin story for a space adventurer, a la Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. I wanted the story to be pulp style, so no hard science: spaceships can go as fast as the story requires, and I don't need to explain it; alien races are often human-shaped and invariably speak English, and I don't need to explain it. So far so good, right?

I ended up researching Jazz Age slang, the French Foreign Legion, savate, the origins of Art Deco, and a bunch of other nonsense, and I still haven't finished the story. Staying out of that rabbit hole is hard for me.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by R. L. Burnside
She asked me why
I just went on and told her
Newt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2014, 05:25 PM   #3
scrappy
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 118
scrappy is just really nicescrappy is just really nicescrappy is just really nicescrappy is just really nicescrappy is just really nice

great article, steven. one of my favorites.

but i'm going to disagree with you. in the article you're saying (tell me if i'm wrong) research enough to know what you're talking about, but dont kill yourself doing it for x, y and z reasons.

while that might make logical sense, i prefer to kill myself doing research. wikipedia is the greatest invention when researching for writing. gives you just enough information to make it sound like you know what you're talking about. and when i'm researching something, i read the whole article, then click on a related article, and another, and another.

yes, the majority of that info probably will never get into the story. and even yes, i might fib some of the details if it hurts a dramatic aspect of the story. but i find immersing myself in the subject matter of a story, diving head first into it's world and absorbing all the info i can on it (even if i dont remember it the next day) gets me into that "zone" of the characters and the story's world. the more i know the better because i feel confident in what i'm talking about regardless if the factoids are in there or not.

that's just how i am though.
scrappy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-11-2014, 08:39 PM   #4
Luke Noonan
Registered User
 
Luke Noonan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Scotland
Posts: 279
Luke Noonan is just really niceLuke Noonan is just really niceLuke Noonan is just really niceLuke Noonan is just really niceLuke Noonan is just really niceLuke Noonan is just really nice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newt View Post
This column could be written just for me. Through a combination of personal inclination and training (I have a degree in biology), I do inordinate amounts of research for everything I attempt to write. Often I get so bogged down in research I can never get the actual story moving.

Recently, in an attempt to get around this issue, I gave myself a writing assignment: write an origin story for a space adventurer, a la Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. I wanted the story to be pulp style, so no hard science: spaceships can go as fast as the story requires, and I don't need to explain it; alien races are often human-shaped and invariably speak English, and I don't need to explain it. So far so good, right?

I ended up researching Jazz Age slang, the French Foreign Legion, savate, the origins of Art Deco, and a bunch of other nonsense, and I still haven't finished the story. Staying out of that rabbit hole is hard for me.
Holy fuck, welcome to my world.
Luke Noonan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-22-2014, 12:16 PM   #5
tim1961
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 58
tim1961 is on a distinguished road

research is mucho importanto

Related a bit to doing research is that it invests a character with more believability.

I'm working on a cocaine dealing drug murder biker story set in the mid 1970s and looked up what the Federal government was doing back then, and found a lot of great material to put in the story. Not only did it flesh out some heavy characters well it backs up the events to things that really could've happened back then.

Secondly, a bit like research is taking time (talking just an hour or two, no more) to writing up a short bio of your main characters. Knowing their background, political leanings, family, past traumas, loves, desires... ...even their attitude about work (i.e. he's a cop, does he like his job, is he bored, is he close to retirement?) adds mountainfuls of help when writing the script even before they speak one word.

Lastly I agree with Steve a bit on carrying the research just far enough. Like the story I heard on the old low budget Hammer Films in the 1960s they would figure out the camera angles before building a castle set, say, so that they would know enough to stop building the structure just two feet beyond the frame of the scene! Same goes for research, you need to approach it with a cold eye knowing just how much is enough.
tim1961 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2014, 01:51 AM   #6
crognus
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 422
crognus is a jewel in the roughcrognus is a jewel in the roughcrognus is a jewel in the rough

I agree. The job of a writer is to bend truths to reveal greater truths. The primary function of fiction is just to tell a good story. On the other hand, too little knowledge can become so distracting it breaks the reader's suspension of disbelief.

I still refuse to go see Lucy though...That "10% of your brain" bull crap makes me want to tear apart Uri Geller with a bent spoon.
crognus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2014, 01:58 AM   #7
crognus
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 422
crognus is a jewel in the roughcrognus is a jewel in the roughcrognus is a jewel in the rough

Quote:
Originally Posted by scrappy View Post
great article, steven. one of my favorites.

but i'm going to disagree with you. in the article you're saying (tell me if i'm wrong) research enough to know what you're talking about, but dont kill yourself doing it for x, y and z reasons.

while that might make logical sense, i prefer to kill myself doing research. wikipedia is the greatest invention when researching for writing. gives you just enough information to make it sound like you know what you're talking about. and when i'm researching something, i read the whole article, then click on a related article, and another, and another.

yes, the majority of that info probably will never get into the story. and even yes, i might fib some of the details if it hurts a dramatic aspect of the story. but i find immersing myself in the subject matter of a story, diving head first into it's world and absorbing all the info i can on it (even if i dont remember it the next day) gets me into that "zone" of the characters and the story's world. the more i know the better because i feel confident in what i'm talking about regardless if the factoids are in there or not.

that's just how i am though.
I do not think that was the point he was making. I think he was saying, "Do not get so hung up on accuracy that it destroys the story. But do enough so the story is believable." You can do all the research you want, but how interesting would Braveheart or Amadeus be if the writer had sacrificed some of drama for historical accuracy?
crognus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2014, 07:25 PM   #8
Newt
Registered User
 
Newt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 5,042
Newt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant future

I thought about this article today.

I've been working on an illustration for a book, showing how a sinkhole forms. Much of the picture is taken up by a section through a slab of limestone bedrock. Now, sinkholes in the area under question typically form in massive limestones, i.e. formations with no particular internal structure, just a big mass of rock. But the picture was boring with so much of it taken up by an undifferentiated gray block. So, I made the painful decision to sacrifice accuracy for aesthetic impact, and converted my massive limestone to a bedded limestone with plenty of layers.

I don't know if it was the right decision. I do know that I feel dirty.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by R. L. Burnside
She asked me why
I just went on and told her
Newt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2014, 07:33 PM   #9
Steven Forbes
Freelance Editor
 
Steven Forbes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: In the moment
Posts: 3,888
Steven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud ofSteven Forbes has much to be proud of

LOL

Good! You didn't let accuracy get in the way of drama!

Take a shower, then get back to writing.
__________________
Learn to make comics at ComixTribe! Be part of the Tribe!
E-Mail me for your editing needs. Twitter: @stevedforbes
"Criticism is an acknowledgment of your ability to produce results." David Gerrold
Steven Forbes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2014, 07:41 PM   #10
Newt
Registered User
 
Newt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 5,042
Newt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant future

Roger, wilco.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by R. L. Burnside
She asked me why
I just went on and told her
Newt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2014, 08:13 AM   #11
B-McKinley
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Indiana
Posts: 130
B-McKinley has a spectacular aura aboutB-McKinley has a spectacular aura aboutB-McKinley has a spectacular aura about

This is definitely a column that resonated with me. I sort of keep falling down that rabbit hole again and again. Why? For me part of the lure is that doing that research has made my ideas richer and more unique (I think). Asking questions and coming up with answers for why and how, seems to move it away from cliche toward something more memorable. But if I don't stop at some point, I'll be writing a thesis, not a comic.
B-McKinley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2014, 09:21 AM   #12
Duane Korslund
F!@* Symmetry!!
 
Duane Korslund's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: San Antonio TX
Posts: 2,757
Duane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to beholdDuane Korslund is a splendid one to behold

I think the real trick is to "know when to say when" Too much info and the story becomes too dry...too little and your story is poop...or at the very least lies on the edge of unbelievable. Know when to say when....or give me your keys!
Duane Korslund is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2014, 09:53 AM   #13
Newt
Registered User
 
Newt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 5,042
Newt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant futureNewt has a brilliant future

Of course, there's always the Lord of the Rings...

Tolkien spent a lifetime on research and development of Middle Earth, and any sane critic would have told him he was wasting his time, that nobody cared about how Quenya grammar differed from Sindarin or the full list of the kings of Numenor. And then LotR became the best-selling work of fiction of the twentieth century, and spawned one of the world's most successful film franchises. Any number of superfans can converse in Elvish languages and carry on learned discussion regarding Numenorean history.

But it's an outlier.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by R. L. Burnside
She asked me why
I just went on and told her
Newt is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:28 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
© 1997-2015 Digital Webbing, LLC