Tim Greene asked the question:
How much research should you do before writing your novel? Also could you give some helpful tips for researching when it comes to getting interviews with people with people?
Randy sez: There are three classes of fiction writers:
- Writers who love research
- Writers who hate research
- Writers who insist on classifying all writers into three classes
If you love research, then you are probably doing too much of it and you really need to get out of the library and start writing your novel. If you have already done so much research that you know 100 times as much as you can put into your novel, then this means you. Stop researching now. Start the darned book. NOW.
If you hate research, then are probably not doing enough of it and your fiction writing is going to suffer in various ways. For example, you’re probably depending on “what everybody knows” which really means “what everybody learned by watching TV” which probably means “it might have been true in 1952, but it’s mostly wrong now.” If you have done so little research that you have to depend on stuff “everybody knows” then do some more work. Keep learning until you know at least 10 times as much as you can put into your novel.
One hazard that the research lovers face is that they want to put everything they know in the book. Don’t, don’t, don’t. If you’ve ever read a 150 page explanation of how a nuclear bomb works, nanosecond by nanosecond, then you know what I’m talking about. Your rule of thumb is to put in only about 1% of what you know. If you took my advice to learn 100 times what you need to know for the book, then this will work perfectly. Save the other 99% of what you know for your next 99 books.
If you insist on classifying all fiction writers into three classes, then you are probably a sick-minded person and you should probably go start a blog.
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