Research like a scientist…even for a fiction.

Tumblr Post #2 (January 2016)

I’ve been listening to a lot of author interviews lately and one theme that has been persistently present is the topic of research. Authors would say something along the lines of “when I was doing my research for this book,” or “in my research, I found this or that.”

Research.

I’d be lying if I say that I’m not completely familiar with the word and practice. I’ve been conducting research and writing literary reviews, research papers and annotated bibliographies for years. I can’t say that I’m particularly fond of the practice, but I know that it is absolutely necessary in our quest for a more perfect truth. When I was an undergrad, I found myself conducting research for an honors thesis (by mistake) and though the practice was grueling and required the absolute most, I can honestly say that the eight months and 45 pages of literary review, data collection and interpretation was one of the most fulfilling aspects of my entire college career.  Because of that research, I was able to travel across the country to present my findings; I was able to be among the elite few who have accomplished the feat of writing an honors thesis; and I was able to say that I completed something that I never had plans to even pursue in the first place.

All because of research.

But research for a fiction? I’ve never really given that notion much thought. In grade school, I learned that fiction = fake and non-fiction = not fake; a nice little reminder for my maturing young brain. With this in mind, it never occurred to me that authors who write works of fiction often do non-fictional research in order to make their novels, their “fake” “fiction” novels, sound more real; more “not fake.”

As I’m writing this novel (currently on chapter 2), I’ve found myself conducting my own research– scoping out apartment listings in major US cities, studying public transit maps, and even doing calculations to make sure that ages coincide with dates for major social events. The works. Yes, it’s very extra and was not in my original plan when I sat down to start writing this book. However, I want this thing to be believable. Even though it’s a fiction, I want it to be a believablefiction. I don’t want my novel to mention a hurricane causing devastating flooding in the mountains of northern Georgia (something geographically impossible but present in a Bollywood film that I will not name) if something like this is highly unlikely. Similarly, I don’t want to write about a fresh college grad living in a loft in downtown San Francisco if her yearly earnings are only $30,000…it’s literally unfathomable.

Therefore, I must incorporate research in my timeline for writing this novel…if I ever really had a timeline to begin with. 🙂

 

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