BENEFITS AND CONSEQUENCES OF RESEARCH
I’ve talked several times about how important it is to do your research. When you’re writing a story based on some form of reality, and don’t want your readers to call you on a fact you blew because of your ignorance, that standard “despite extensive research and help from others, all errors are the authors alone” statement a lot of authors use just doesn’t cut it.
Another problem is that many times, simply relying on the Internet may not be enough. It all depends on the situation. However, this is all old news and my issue is when you become involved in a subject beyond the mere “getting the facts straight” phase.
Case in point is one of my someday upcoming novels about a lake. I won’t name either the title of the novel or the lake. Those of you that care enough can probably dig deep enough into my past and find out what I’m referring to, but because of the situation that’s evolved over the past few years, the tragic decline of a situation I’ve been following closely, I’d rather not bring up the name.
I’ve had a lifelong fascination with this body of water. It made for the perfect inspiration for a thriller forty years later. When I started my research, I got to know several people involved with it. Because of that, I became emotionally involved in the sad story and the tragic state of what should be a natural wildlife area.
This whole saga should’ve been a lot simpler. However, once I started digging, it turned into a quest for the truth about legends, the science behind the reality, and the politics behind the effort to save it from various forces out to use it and/or abuse it for various means.
If I were a millionaire, I’d buy the property and settle things once and for all, but that’s just a pipe dream. All I can do is periodically check on it, watch as things continue to deteriorate, and stay on the sidelines, helpless to not only get involved, but even campaign in anyway because doing so could hurt people that don’t need the grief.
Instead of merely a simple research project for a novel, I’ve become emotionally involved in something far deeper. It’s also part of my heritage. As it stands right now, I can’t use the real name or location of the lake, which was part of my original research goal (to gain permission from the owner).
When you do research, as I do, I normally don’t become this involved in something. It’s usually a lot of fun and I learn many things. In this case, fortunately or unfortunately, I also came away with a personal interest that has lasted far longer, along with friendships beyond just a contact person.
Has this happened to you as a writer? Are you in this situation right now?
If things work out, saving the lake would be far more valuable than anything I would ever get from the book. At this point, it doesn’t look like things are going to work out so well for the lake.
Research can be simple, or you can end up in a situation like I’m in. Either way, writing is still a kick, ain’t it?