Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hey Stoopid!

OK, watch that if you want, it's just Mr. Cooper reiterating how stupid some people can be. Why did I call this post Hey Stoopid? Well, that's what you are if you don't do research!! How many of you have read a book and realized the author didn't have a clue about the subject they were writing about? Kinda gives authors a bad name, huh? 

Here's a quote from my author buddy Blaze McRob:
"If a story is really bad, I don't finish it. Some tales are left to the imagination, but others need some basis in fact to bring the believability out. I get pissed and would love to pound the holy shit out of the person who wasted my time with inane garbage. I loved reading the old Mickey Spillane novels because he knew the city he wrote about and what happened there."

So do you really wanna waste you hard-earned pennies on a book that's gonna suck? NO! And would you wanna waste someone else's hard earned pennies on your book? I would hope not. As authors, our job is to strive to put out the BEST quality work you can. So what if research takes time, so does writing the book in the first place. Why not take a little extra time and make it right? Even Science Fiction has some research that needs to be done. 

When I started writing my first novel, Project: Dragonslayers, I started it when there was NO internet! (Yeah, I really am that old) If I wanted to do research, I'd have to either dredge around on the entry hall floor of the house to find the right encyclopedia (you know, those big, heavy, dusty books no one reads anymore) or I had to climb on my bike and ride 6 miles to the local library and try and find what I wanted using the Dewey Decimal system. It sucked! So I made up a lot of stuff. It was a good thing for me that novel got shoved in a drawer for quite a few years before I unearthed it and decided to finish it. Now, there was the magic of the internet at my fingertips! Oh, the amazing amount of information I gleaned from the masses of electronic pages. I was in heaven!! Things that I had written about that I thought were "science fiction" were indeed, "science fact." A whole new world was opened to me. 

Don't be afraid to use the internet. Wikipedia is one of my favorite starting places. Starting, yes. Not all the information there is 100% correct, but many times there are links at the bottom to other pages which are very handy. They may take you on a wild goose chase and dump you at the Holy Grail of your chosen source information. Another of my VERY favorites is Google Earth (GE). It can be a royal pain to download, but once on your desktop, is an invaluable tool for finding locations. I've never been to Yemen, nor do I care to go there, but I was able to give a pretty accurate description of the dormant volcano on the tip of the Aden peninsula. GE will even let you measure distances in a variety of lengths. So cool!

And my other way to find information, just use a search engine and type in roughly what you're looking for. I needed information on nanotechnology, well, I knew MIT was working on stuff, so I poked around their website and another called MIT World, and found this:  
and this:     both are super cool!

Now, I didn't use the technology exactly how they described, but it gave me enough information to be able to have my characters employ the nanos in a slightly different, but plausible manner.

To sum it all up. You don't want to sell your readers short on your hard work. If you do, and they aren't happy, then they won't buy any more of your books. Give them a bang-up story with juicy, realistic morsels and they'll come back for more, and maybe dessert! Speaking of, I'm off to get some dinner before this beer really goes to my head!  I can see the headlines now: "Blogging on Boddington's."

Until next time, my creatively obsessed friends,


Next installment: The Plot.


  1. You are so right when you say the internet is a great source of information. So many sites to check on, with links to other sites, etc. It just never ends. Some of this stuff spurs other story ideas as well. I keep some handy-dandy books lying around on Angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, ghosts: you get the point. I write horror. Sure I can branch out and invent my own little bad-boy demons, but there's nothing like getting some cool names from lore. Another great source for me is the Bible. Have you read Revelations, Genesis, Job, and any number of other books lately. Grisly stuff in there. So, like Kathy says: do your f_ _ _ _ _g research! Hand me a Boddington's please.

  2. I so agree. I love researching before and during the writing of a new book - everything, from cities to restaurants (The latest episode of Castle used a reference to Spago's in LA - I researched and found that place months ago and used it in my book Dark Angel: Fallen - glad to see it elsewhere). I've learned a lot about Chicago by researching for stories. Makes them so much better to read.