it's all in the details

It’s All in the Details

Details are important in all facets of life. Whether you are baking cookies or writing a book, it’s all in the details.

Research is what a writer uses to bring a character to life. It creates the personality, and a world for that character to reside within.

The stories that I enjoy most, have more than one element going on. You can’t simply say that along with being a mother of five, she’s an on-call paramedic. You’d be leaving out the how’s, and why’s, as well as what it’s like.

I warn you, research can become addictive, so you need a plan.

Many writers rely on google for their research needs. Depending on what you are looking for, it can be an excellent resource. Sometimes however, what you need and what you get aren’t quite the same. You might try Key Word Searches, as sometimes they are truly golden. Historical data doesn’t change, but if you want to know how a specific person was personally affected by a moment in history, you are most likely out of luck. Try a historian.

Most newspapers have access to past issues on computer files, or at the very least, on micro-fiche. Once in a great while, original issues will be stored in books. Be careful though, you might find yourself reading about bread for 5 cents a loaf, or even worse, a full-page report on a mayor’s daughter’s wedding from 30 years ago. I can’t help wondering if they are still married. Now, back to business, know what you need and go for it.

If you are creating a fictional place as well as circumstances for your characters, you are going to need lifestyle details. Even a fictional character has to earn a living, has family, friends, neighbors, a spouse or significant other. While most of these details have only minor parts in the story, they may play a crucial role in showing the passage of time.

Personal interviews can be a great way to gain insights for your story. Interviews can take many forms. You can pose a question, and ask your neighbors, friends, or co-workers for their thoughts.

Perhaps you could talk to experts. Now you might feel nervous about that, because professionals are busy people, and might not like being approached. It’s a matter of finding the right person. Make some calls to office managers or receptionists of people you’re hoping to talk to. I guarantee they know the personalities of their bosses. Before you even give it a try, you will have an idea if it might work.

When the opportunity does arise, know specifically what you are wanting to find out. If they like your approach, you may walk away with much more than you hoped for.

As with writing itself, you will find that coming up with research information, begins with your imagination. From there, it’s all in the details.

Sandi Furlong
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2 thoughts on “It’s All in the Details

  1. Thank you, Sandi, for posting this. Very enlightening! I enjoyed the point about research being addicting and needing a plan. So true. Rick Houston

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