When I wrote my first novel, the thought of “research” never crossed my mind.  I assumed the entire story would revolve around what I already know. Heck, I’m on the back side of the downhill run, so I’ve been through a lot in my days, and have quite an extensive file cabinet full of “expertise”. Right? 
Wrong. I got no further than the first few pages of beautifully written prose, spot-on dialogue, and…wait—what kind of trees grow in a little burg in New York? How should I know? I’ve never been to New York. Hmmm. Time for some research.

How many hours are spent researching depends on your story, how much you know about a subject yourself, and how accurate your recall is. The internet is a wealth of information at your fingertips, but it still takes time to muddle through the information available. But trust me, if you rely solely on your expertise, chances are there is going to be a snafu of some kind and your readers WILL find it.

I recently purchased an e-book by an author dubbed as the next Stephen King. I adore anything written by the master of the psyche, so why not give this guy a try? I was about halfway through (wasn’t great to begin with) when the author makes mention of the movie The Shining. Cool! However, when I read Jack Nicklaus played the caretaker gone bonkers, I slammed my Kindle shut and wanted to rip out my hair! Had I bought the paperback instead of the e-book, it would have landed across my bedroom on the floor with the dust bunnies, never to be opened again. Everybody knows Jack Nicholson played the part of the caretaker (in the first version)…not Mr. Nicklaus, the GOLFER! Holy crapola!

The only positive was the Kindle version was only ninety-nine cents. Google search and a little tap on the keyboard would have corrected this fatal error. Or, an editor. Both were lacking here. Too bad. He lost a reader.

During a research session for a short story I wrote for Dancing With Bear Publishing (due out Spring 2013), I stumbled across an astonishing bit of trivia that at once had me thinking of the Harry Potter series. Check back in a week to discover a little secret that may have you thinking J.K. wasn’t the first to use this bit of magic!

Until then--

Happy Reading, Happy Writing,

~Susie

 


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