Monday, August 28, 2017

Researching your novel: How much is too much?

I search through my bookshelves occasionally, finding books I read and enjoyed many years ago. A few days ago, I ran across a book by one of the top suspense writers and remembered how much I enjoyed it twenty-five years ago. At that time in my life, I was involved with computers, writing some of my own software and buying too many gadgets. Computers offered some exciting possibilities for writers, and most of us couldn’t wait for all of those wonderful things to arrive in the marketplace. At that time, we knew there were many ideas being considered regarding operating systems. Computers were complicated, and we needed a way to make them intuitive where you could throw the manuals aside and get to work creating a bestselling novel. In this particular book, a cutting-edge company invented a device that operated somewhat like a treadmill. You walked on rubber balls down a virtual hallway wearing a pair of goggles that showed an office-like environment with file cabinets on the walls. You could open any drawer and browse through the information. It was a very clunky system that would require a lot of expensive hardware, but fascinating at that time. Computers quickly advanced beyond this concept to what we have today with Google, the Internet, and digital drives. Reading the book now, it is slightly amusing, and it is hard not to laugh at some of the passages. It is very easy for a writer to get caught up in the same trap. Regardless of how careful you research any situation, technology moves in unexpected directions because of unforeseen developments. Young people today are amused at 8-track tapes, cassette recordings, and CD storage. I research endlessly when I am writing, and you should too, but don’t write yourself into a corner explaining cutting-edge developments that will be outdated in a year or two. I have made this mistake, and it can make your wonderful book outdated a long time before it should be. A good book can be relevant for centuries, and it should be if it is carefully written. Happy writing and have a wonderful day.


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