The inner critic jumped right in at the idea level on this story. I suppose it had to happen, but still…
The idea came from a Science Channel commercial for “Mysteries of the Volcano Temple” (it’s in Rome) Volcano Temple was seriously cool. Perfect place for an action story in my sword and sorceress series.
I even decided before I was going to write the story that it would be called Volcano Temple.
That should have been a sign of the problem. I’ve been calling these “Story 14,” “Story 15,” etc. until I’m almost done. That way I don’t invite the inner critic in for a stay.
I started on the first scene. It wasn’t until I was trying to describe a statue of the volcano god and figure out what to name him that I realized the rabbit hole I headed down. The whole purpose of the S&S stories to get a monster. Describing and naming the god wasn’t going to help any of that. Restarted the story, changed the POV, and concentrated more on the treasure hunt aspect of finding a lost temple.
This time, I focused on adding more details. I’m not detail-oriented, so this is a weak area for me, though I was doing better than I thought I was. Things like “he sat back in his chair” became “The applewood chair creaked as he settled his spine against the backrest.” (And gets the detail, sound, and touch.)
A lot of on the spot research for little details like that. I’m going to be working on a book on research for fiction writers in 2021, because there really isn’t anything except superficial blog posts or ones that advocate spending a year researching before you start writing. A lot of shortcuts can be done without spending years mirred in research.
The story is sword and sorcery, called “Temple Terror,” and weighed in at 3,000. Only 22 uses of was, so my effort last week seems to have made a difference.
I sometimes use an atlas when doing research–and tourist brochures and booklets.
I generally use places I’m familiar with–then I can focus the research on things to add to it.
I’m looking forward to the “Research for Fiction Writers,” even if it’s not likely to be helpful to me. (Too many of my ideas are far enough back in history that primary sources, such as they are, are in languages I don’t read. SIGH)
One trick/habit/tool I use is the Five-Click Google (I don’t remember where I first encountered the term. Chris Baty’s book, “No Plot? No Problem!” comes to mind, but don’t take it as Gospel.): If I can find the answer (a good enough answer, anyway, depending on the topic) within five clicks on a Google search, I will. Otherwise, I’ll put brackets and a note to myself to look something up later.
Obviously, the Five-Click is really only useful for hard facts (like what was the weather in location A on date B), as opposed to background/sensory information.
On re-read, that first paragraph came out a bit snarkier than I intended, and I apologize.
I meant that many of the blog entries and such I read on researching say something like, “Read primary sources!” (Um…I don’t read classical Latin, or Japanese, or…), and as a result, I’ve rarely found one that’s useful.
I hope your book is different, of course, and will definitely read it because your and my approaches to writing are similar!
That’s been a problem I’ve seen with research for fiction–they treat it like you’re doing a term paper for the first time or writing a historical novel (very different genre requirements).
I’m planning for something a lot more substantial than a “listical” book that feels like blog posts. And not anything that explains how to go to a library and cite sources. it’ll focus instead of having fun with it and doing things that are interesting to you. Maybe I’ll add how I’m doing some of the research to these posts and eventually I’ll ask for first readers.
But one you can take and start as budget permits. Look at the local library or community center classes for any topics that look interesting and fun. I’m doing a free 2 hour lecture on daylight savings time history (no idea why; it just caught my interest) in January, and a 2 hour European Martial Arts one from the county ($$), I’m going to add a History of Photography in the 1800s when budget permits ($$), also 2 hours. There are not for a planned story. They just looked like something I wanted to do. I like the 2-hour lecture because it’s perfect for a limited schedule and yet I get things I can use in stories or inspire them.
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