Tips · Writing

Dirty Little Secret #7

I do a limited amount of research for my books.

If there’s something important I want to get right, obviously I’ll research it until my fingers bleed, but in terms of literature, I don’t like research.

I wrote Runaway Girl with only Internet research. I have never read a vampire novel before, that wasn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer associated. The only vampire TV shows I had ever seen were Buffy and The Vampire Diaries (which didn’t start until long after the book was written, but before it was published.) I had never read Anne Rice, Dracula, Sookie Stackhouse, watched True Blood or read the Twilight series. This is a total list of the vampires I had been exposed to, by the time Runaway Girl was finished initial writing –

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show and books)
  • Blade
  • Underworld

I had never heard of, read, or watched any other vampires in action. And I didn’t want to. I knew I wanted my vampires to be unique, so I did the bare minimum of research about them, wanting everything to be from my imagination and nothing more. I never want to start writing something and read it back, or have my readers read it back, and compare it to something else. If there are coincidences, with other stories in film or TV or books, then I can accept that, but I never want to be the same as anyone else. Coincidences happen and with the way some of us have been raised on certain shows or books, then it’s extremely possible that more than a few of us think alike.

To me, unless research is vital to the truth and honesty of a story, then I’d rather not do it. Not because of the time or effort, but because research can put ideas in your head. Without realising it, research, even just casual reading or watching of TV or movies, can implant ideas that seem ‘normal’ and something that ‘everyone knows’. But sometimes it’s not obvious, it’s something that someone else made up. They had the imagination to do it, and so can you.

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5 thoughts on “Dirty Little Secret #7

  1. I’m a little like you. I like to do research, but only on monsters that are a little unconventional/out of the mainstream. I tend not to like to do too much research before I start writing, because I’m impatient. In fact, the only thing I like to do before writing are character sketches, because I like to know who I’m writing about before I start writing.

    I can see what you’re saying about how knowing too much can ruin the originality of the plot/characters. At the same time though, I think it’s kind of important to know what’s been done before in literature, so you can avoid doing it yourself (or know how to give it a different spin). But it really could go either way, I guess. 🙂

    1. Very true. I actually had a comment saying that my story was like one of the Sookie Stackhouse books, which was a total surprise because I had no idea what they were talking about. lol.

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