American West fiction, Conference, LaDene Morton, Research, What Lies West, WILLA Award, Women Writing the West, Women's West
June 26, 2013 at 11:22 am
Boy, does this ring a few bells, LaDene. Thank you both for a most re-assuring post! As the saying goes, 'you are not alone.'
June 27, 2013 at 7:55 am
You are so right, LaDene–for those of us who love research, there's never an end! I think of my research as a matrix out of which the story grows: the more research, the greater the story potential. But we have to write, too. And sometimes it takes a while. I began the research for my novel, A Wilder Rose, in the late 1980s–earlier than that, really, when I count the nudges that pushed me onto the Research Road. But other writing projects intervened and the research didn't begin to produce the story until 2011. Kudos to you for knowing when your matrix was "enough" and it was time to let the story grow!
June 27, 2013 at 9:41 am
La Dene, Yep, right on with research. Books are still my favorite research tool. I do use the Internet for quick info, but give me a book and a quiet corner to really find something that makes our work shine. One of the neatest things I ran across, though, came from a blog post by a fellow writer, who had already done all the research on phrenology, a popular medical tool in the 1900s, and I thought how cool and this would be so useful in my WIP, so I let him know how much he'd helped me. In the end we never know where we'll run across that one tidbit of info that smacks us upside of the head. Thanks for a good post.
June 27, 2013 at 11:41 am
I agree so much with this post, proving how engrossing and enjoyable research can be. When researching for my novel, LONG ROAD TURNING, I asked a western Kansas rancher to show me the stone quarry on his land, and to demonstrate the process of quarrying stone (used for fence posts and such.) On the way, bumping over the open prairie in his pickup, he stopped to show me a bonus to my research. Down in a brush-filled gully was a dugout that had been there since the 1880s. Once it was his ancestor's home. He kept it up as a place to escape during a tornado, or winter blizzard when his ranchhouse couldn't be safely reached in time. There was a bed inside the dugout, a very old cupboard, a chair. In a deep hole in the dirt floor was cached canned goods, candles, matches, and other necessities for survival.
June 27, 2013 at 11:47 am
If I might add on to my comment: Whether doing book research, and/or physical research, an author never knows what wonderful finds will turn up — things they didn't expect but that add so much to the story they want to tell.
June 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm
Jumping in here – Susan I thought I was the only one to maintain ongoing – as in decades – research projects. Good for you for persevering.
June 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm
Irene, Velda – that is so true! I'll add that I happened to be in an area I researched for The Dividing Season and decided on a whim to stop at the historic hotel that was my "pattern" for the hotel my protagonist "ran away to." It is right on the Texas coast – Tres Palacous Bay. I got to talking with a couple of "geezers" (if I may use that term) and come to find out they both had first hand knowledge of a WWII Prisoner camp in that area. It was the VERY thing I'd been researching. AND there, by happenstance I had not one, but two who had been to the camps, knew prisoners, people who hired them….the whole nine yards. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
June 28, 2013 at 10:25 am
Dear LaDene and Karen,Thank you for this thoughtful blog and a thank you to the commentators for their stories. I use the internet and have an extensively used library, some of which I load up when traveling.One tool I especially like is visiting museums. In Benson, AZ I found Jo's ballroom party dress of ivory striped silk with a red velvet jacket. At the Fort Huachuca historical museum, I filled up on the role the fort played in my characters lives. The Bisbee museum's story of the real Jo's runaway Ford was thrilling to see and borrow from. And, yes, it is easy to get far down that research path before, reluctantly, turning back.
June 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm
Arletta – it seems we all share a fascination with the research process – it's the writing part that stumps so many, me included.
July 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm
What a great post, LaDene! I fully concur with you and everyone who has commented 🙂 I also get lost on the journey down Research Road and forget to write. But I believe that as writers we intuitively know when enough research has been done and when to begin writing. Although I do need to work on some more research…
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