Doing Your Research – Sparingly

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I’m three-quarters of the way through “Someday In Dublin,” and of course, I’m doing my research.

That’s the problem, though. Since I haven’t been to some of the places I’m writing about, I want to make sure I’m being as accurate as possible. I’m trolling the internet for tourist videos and traveler recommendations and personal travel blogs. I’m polling various internet friends who actually live in Ireland for their thoughts on certain things, and of course, they’ll be my beta readers when I’m done to make sure I’m not making a mess of any of this.

But there comes a time when you have to say to yourself: “Back away from the internet.” Especially when you’re researching someplace you’d love to go and see.

I can’t tell you how many internet rabbit holes I’ve fallen down, how many hours of writing time I’ve frittered away watching videos and checking out the websites of every national park and quaint little B&B I can find. I spent one entire evening reading pub menus from various watering holes in Dublin!

It’s all great fun, but it’s also not keeping me focused and not helping me toward my goal, which is finishing the damn book, after all. So I’ve learned a trick that helps me, and so far, it’s working.

When I’m writing the story, I keep certain things generic and then when I’m going back and revising, I’ll add in the specifics. I work in MS Word, so I use the highlight feature to mark the place in the manuscript, so I know I need to tweak it later. It looks something like this:

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Later, I’ll go back and add in the name of a nearby village, and somewhere a little further down I’ll put in some details about something they saw there to flesh it out. By keeping it generic as I’m writing, I’m staying focused on what they’re doing with each other, how we’re moving the plot forward, what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. And most importantly, I’m not spending an hour on the internet when all I needed was the name of the damn village.

Writer tricks. They’re what’s for dinner.

And now, back to Michael and Amy, and Ireland. Can’t wait to share this one with you all!

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