Research for the Author with OCD

This is in response to a question posed on the DarkFuse Message Board. I thought it might be fun to share my process.

How much research do you do? Also, how do you conduct such research-via the web, at the library, that kind of thing. —Charlene

For me, doing the research is nearly as much fun as doing the writing. It turns out, I absolutely love learning new things. (Who would have ever thought, right?) I strive to make every inconsequential and seemingly obscure detail 100% accurate. Through the years, I’ve developed a multi-pronged approach. I start with an idea and do the preliminary legwork online to see if the idea is feasible. If I think it has potential, I spend several months contemplating the storyline, which really amounts to little more than a generic character study, a source for conflict, and the ultimate (hopefully startling) denouement. Again, if I feel there’s potential and the excitement is there, I’ll begin the actual research.

Elaborate post with pictures below the cut.

(Bear in mind, as this is transpiring, I’m still working on something else. Here’s the process I’m going through right now.)

I’m currently working on this (theoretically, my next DarkFuse novel):

A. IMAG0077


I’ve already done the research for this book (partly from the internet, mostly from a meaty stack of books) and all of the pertinent information had been consolidated into notebooks organized by all of the various topics and details:

B. IMAG0075IMAG0076


I use these in combination with about fifty internet sites saved into my laptop during the process of composing by hand. Once I’m done with the project, I save these binders for use down the road (bottom shelf in the picture below), almost like a set of encyclopedias. (For you kids out there, encyclopedias were like the internet in book form, only with dated material and without the porn.)

Meanwhile, I have the bookcase beside my desk set up with the books and videos I’m using as research for my next project (the top shelf mostly; the second is for ancillary or potentially irrelevant details). There’s something to be said for buying books you want to read as research materials since you can write them off on your taxes. Below:

C. IMAG0073


So, while I’m writing A (the work-in-progress) from B (the annotated and consolidated research materials) and the sites saved on my laptop, I’m reading and taking notes from C to create more B binders for the next book. Once the actual writing process begins, the books on the shelf (C) will be replaced with the books I intend to read for the next story in line. The whole process takes anywhere from four months to a year, depending on how ambitious the story turns out to be. It’s a very streamlined system that took, oh…about six years to implement.

And there you have it, research made easy for the OCD author.


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