So, research. It’s a massive part of the job. Who decided writers have to sound like they know what they’re talking about? That just sounds like crazy talk to me 🙂
However, even though you do all this research, you may have heard people say before 99% of what the author knows never appears on the page. Bummer! Oh well, it has to be done and some of it can be extremely interest. However, how do you go about researching?
For me, because I am lazy-no, no, it’s efficient. EFFICIENT-I like to watch movies or tv shows with similar subject matter to the story I’m writing. There are so many benefits to this. One, you are absorbing the way the writers have written the show, the way the directors and producers have interpreted the writing and, above all, the dialogue. Watching people talking can only help you improve your own dialogue skills, no matter if the show be good or bad. Second, the researchers and set designers have done ALL THE WORK FOR YOU.
Currently, I’m watching Rome. I watched this show a few years ago but recently I’ve purchased the dvd box sets and my wordy, is it great for research! The production design unit has busted their, uh, backs to make the show look like Rome at the creation of the Empire. This is invaluable. You can read all the books in the world describing what a patrician’s house looked like but a 30 second scene from Rome set within a patrician’s villa makes an impression no book could every hope to. For me, visual research is great when used in conjunction with the written.
These shows spend AGES making sure they get things right, or at least that they adhere to the agreed version of history. For example, it’s doubtful the regency period was like what we as readers accept is regency, but we all agree it’s like that and thus it becomes truth. It’s the same with any historical period. Historians, anthropologies and archeologists are constantly discovering new information, and occasionally this information contradicts all that has gone before. Therefore, history is a fluid beast and mostly, it is what we all agree to be true.
Hmm. I think I got off topic here.
Anyway, watching tv is good for your writing. Totally. You can take that to the bank!