Getting Your Hands Dirty

You have an idea. You have your approach. You have words at the ready. You might even have gone so far as have written out a rough outline. Good for you.

Now some work awaits you. I won’t say hard work, because that depends upon your temperament. For some, it’s fun. For others, it’s tough. Everyone’s different. What work awaits? Research.

All writing requires education and imagination. If you already have experiences regarding a topic, you are educated about a given topic. An actual forensic scientist is going to know more about their field than me (or you, unless you’re an actual forensic scientist). We can fake it and make it well enough for fiction by doing the necessary research to get educated about the specifics of a given topic. If you don’t know a given thing, crack open a book and learn or explore the internet. You have a wealth of information in your pocket.

As I’ve said in the past, go to the well. Dig deep. Find out the facts you need to better support your fiction.

Once you’ve gathered up the information about the topic, be it books or hyperlinks, keep a reference file on the matter for your present work and future reference. Admittedly, I once thought I didn’t need to do any research upon a thing and that I could craft all from whole cloth, and I could. So can you. That being said, you can certainly find an easier path by doing some research to aid you in concentrating upon the points that matter for you.

Let the information sink into your bones. Make notes. Brainstorm ideas. Jot down important points, important dates. Write your draft without referencing all your notes during your first draft. It’s a little tricky. If you must peek, do so. This is kinda like learning to touch type. You’ll get faster with time as information sinks into your bones. Come back and refine and revise in alternate sections. Compare the facts with your fiction and create a consistency which works for your work.

Don’t show off what you’ve learned. Your fiction or roleplaying game should not be dry. Competence breeds confidence and your research should allow you to speak authoritatively through your work via the work that you’ve put into your project. Talk about a given topic the right amount you need to to encompass a given topic. Sometimes, the research you do does not reflect in the volume of your work. Whilst working on the first edition of Realms of Cthulhu, I did a lot of research into gun carry laws in the 1920s because I was not familiar with them. This took about two solid days to find the dry and dusty detail which manifested as a sidebar called¬†Happiness is a Warm Gun.¬†It did not need thousands of words when hundreds would do. There is a difference between content and cardboard, information and fluff. We’ll revisit that in the near future. It’s probably about time for a refresher course.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu.



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