Blurb

The shoes didn't fit. It was an omen.













Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Challenge, Day 16: R is for Research

About four years ago, I attended a mini writing conference. And one of the speakers was a used-to-be- lawyer-turned-bodice-ripper-writer-to-suspense-bodice- ripper-thriller-writer who is a NYC best seller. She gave some really bad advice. And no, I’m not mentioning her name. Like I said she used to be a lawyer.

Anyway, one of her tidbits of advice was ‘just bullshit your way through a scene or a description. You don’t need to research for details. Most readers don’t know any better’. Smack me in the forehead, yes, we do need to research. And yes, the reader knows better.

My critter’s found scenes I had wrong. They were gun related. I learned that a gun is not just a gun but that there are different ones. They even shoot and hold differently. And they don’t all require the same kind of ammo.

When I sent my MS to beta readers, one found (Lorelie Bell, author of Vampire Ascending and Vampire’s Trill), that I had lots of things wrong with driving a semi. So she enlightened me. To this day, I’m so grateful for her suggestions and knowledge on the subject.

And since I’m a hairdresser by trade, I always have opportunities to discuss how my clients feel about reading books.

One of my questions I posed was this, ‘How would you feel if an author bullshitted their way through a scene?”

Their answer was always the same. “We’d put the book down and never finish it because it would make us mad. People aren’t stupid.”

So, yeah, researching topics on how to do something or historical facts is vitally important.

Before I leave, I leave you with a diddy. Maybe two:

It’s not stopping!” The dash looked daunting. There were at least twelve gages and ten switches. “What’s all this stuff for?!”

“I don’t know but you need to find the clutch. It’s somewhere near the brake,” Cynthia said. “I sure hope you remember not to do anything your mother suggests ever again.”

I shifted my foot left and slammed it onto the clutch, grabbing the gear shift. My little hand could barely hang onto the softball-sized shift. “How many gears is on this thing?” I wiggled it front, then to the right, and then left. The engine made a grinding noise.

“Ten forward ones and two reverse.”

DISCLAIMER: No one may use this written content. It belongs to Shelly Arkon.

27 comments:

  1. Shelly, So true! And even when you do your 'due diligence,' we sometimes don't get it right!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beth:

    This is true. It's hard sometimes to process the unknown.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That really is bad advice. Especially now adays when people are so informed about everything, research is essential!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was wierd coming from someone with writing credentials.

      Delete
  4. I agree - readers aren't stupid and there's nothing worse than reading something that is ludicrous bs.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is terrible advice. I'm floored that someone actually said that. If I don't know the small details, I'll bullshit my way through the first draft and then I go find myself someone who does know the small stuff to help me make it better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do that same thing, BS thru the first draft and then fix it during edits.

      Delete
  6. Research is absolutely essential, and it can be done so very easily now, even though it can still be time consuming.

    I'd have no idea about the ins and outs of trucks myself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sir Wills<

      I'm sure I still don't know all the ins and outs of trucks but what I did learn was helpful.

      Now I'm looking for HWY info from the 80s. Just making sure I got that right.

      Delete
  7. Great posting! I agree on the research. I am working on something right now that involves a great deal of research. I love your little diddy today it almost sounds like me trying to drive a stick. I still can't drive one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. And I can't drive a stick either. It makes my stomach ill just thinking about it.

      Delete
  8. Sounds like you researched the clutch! Very good details. I think some details--NOT in this case--but in some books the details can get kind of boring and I wish the writers would have skimmed through the intricacies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evie:

      I agree with the detail thing. I like to get on with the story and give just enpough detail for the reader to imagine it themselves.

      Delete
  9. BS'ing your way through a scene is very poor advice. Readers know and the majority can smell a turd of a writer a mile away while wearing a gas mask. No wonder the person is an ex-attorney...he/she lacked research skills. lol

    ReplyDelete
  10. Research is much easier than it used to be. There is really no excuse for not doing it.

    A clutch is a tricky thing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ohhh, I remember this scene, Shelly. Good job, again! And There is no excuse for not researching a scene. This is no longer a small world, and so many people know more than you think they might. I've been disappointed in many books where I knew something they might not have (one writer tried to say they actually took a dip in a river in the mountains of Colorado which I had been to and knew it to be freezing and very rapid. I lost faith in her after that)

    Good Post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Maybe she really knows her target audience and doesn't care about any informed readers. That technique might work for her and if she's successful it apparently does. To be honest, I'm the type of reader who suspends disbelief so readily that I'll usually go along with just about anything unless it's something that I really know a lot about. So reading inaccuracy probably goes right past me and it's no big deal.

    Not when I'm writing though. I'm a stickler for details and accuracy. I research like crazy because I don't want anybody poking holes in what I've written.


    Lee
    Places I Remember
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm like you, a gullable reader. But in my own stuff it better be correct info.

      Delete
  13. At the risk of sounding elitist, I beg to differ--I see the crap propaganda folks fall for and have decided that people in general are indeed stupid and wonder how some function day to day; however, I would imagine readers are smarter than most people.

    Catch My Words
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. Never under estimate the reader. Bad idea.

      Delete
  14. Oh thats horrible! If the research isn't accurate, readers will scoff. No doubt about it. Readers just look for anything to give them an excuse to stop reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought so. Thought maybe she was trying to defeat the newbie writers.

      Delete
  15. I had someone tell me the same thing about public speaking! Thankfully I didn't listen, because can you imagine being in front of a bunch of people and being shown that you don't know your stuff?? Acckkk!
    Good post, and happy last week of A-Z! :)
    ~AJ @ frodofrog.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

I'm dying to know what you think.