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Thread: How much research is too much research?

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    Junior Member RedRidingHood's Avatar
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    How much research is too much research?

    How much research into myths or world creation do people do? Sometimes I feel like all I do is research, but then when I go to write, I feel like I'm just writing an essay, not fiction. How do you find a balance?

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    Senior Member Johnny Cosmo's Avatar
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    As long as you are crafting your own mythology, or a unique version of an existing one, then I don't think any amount of research can be considered 'too much'. I've been researching for a story a while now, but I know it'll be worth it. I want my world to be consistent and realistic, and the best way to do this is to research real history and mythology.

    In short: I wouldn't worry about it, unless it's preventing you from writing at all. You can always redraft your work if you feel it lacks tone and character. Writing something 'less' academic sounding will probably just take experience.

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    Junior Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    I don't think that in my experience there is such a thing really as too much research. Store the information you gather away and
    let it work its way into your piece. I have had trouble at times like you said with it sounding like an essay. It feels like the
    research takes over and you spout out more facts than the piece you are trying to create. It has helped me at times to just go
    ahead and write as I feel and either turn the information I have put in to the story into more of a story, or to add some information
    where it feels it is lacking. That is the beauty of revision

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    Junior Member Bass_Thunder37's Avatar
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    Well, though I agree that there can't really be too much research if you feel it's necessary, theres one way for there to be too much research.
    "When it makes you want to stop writing.
    If you get to the point where your research is getting in the way of writing, you should stop letting it get you to that point, and just write based on what you do know. So what if you mess up or change something? It makes your story yours, and because it's yours, you can make whatever you want.

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    Leadership Ravana's Avatar
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    No such thing as too much research. Not possible. You may not use everything you collectóshould not use everything you collect, if you're doing it correctly; but it may come in useful at a later date, and could well lead you to additional material you do want to use for a current project that you wouldn't have discovered otherwise.
    I have taken all knowledge to be my province. Tariff rates and immigration policies forthcoming.

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    Senior Member Leuco's Avatar
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    I usually do research as I write, mostly as a form of troubleshooting. For example, if I'm going to include horses or castles, I want to make sure I'm using the appropriate language. If I'm going to talk about a mountain, maybe I should find a picture of one, look up what it is, learn more about it's geology and composition. Is it slate, sandstone, or granite? What's the difference? Is it volcanic rock? Does that mean I'm really looking for a volcano instead? Does it fit with my setting? I don't know, so I read a bit about it. It's the same with weapons, armor, and things like boats. I try to find a picture of what matches my imagination and then I read a bit so I can write about it more effectively. I might pull plot ideas from headlines, but that's not really research. Oh, and the thesaurus! I'm constantly looking for the best word possible. Then sometimes I need to go into a dictionary to make sure I'm using it right!

    To better answer your question, I'd say it's normal to do a lot of research. As for finding a balance, I'd recommend to just start writing and then research as you go.

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    Senior Member Johnny Cosmo's Avatar
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    I usually do research as I write, mostly as a form of troubleshooting. For example, if I'm going to include horses or castles, I want to make sure I'm using the appropriate language. If I'm going to talk about a mountain, maybe I should find a picture of one, look up what it is, learn more about it's geology and composition.
    I do this too, for the type of things you mentioned. For cultural research though, I just read as much as I can and apply what I need. I guess it's a different sort of research.

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    Senior Member ShortHair's Avatar
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    A guideline or truism I saw somewhere in the distant past said, you will gather about ten times as much research as you need to put in the finished product. Possibly a corollary of Sturgeon's Law. So which ten percent do you actually use? That's one thing that separates published authors from the rest of us.

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    Senior Member Sparkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravana View Post
    No such thing as too much research. Not possible. You may not use everything you collect—should not use everything you collect, if you're doing it correctly; but it may come in useful at a later date, and could well lead you to additional material you do want to use for a current project that you wouldn't have discovered otherwise.
    Good point. I know from my own researching experience that good ideas can come from dilligent study. Perhaps even the best ideas.
    Last edited by Sparkie; 11-20-11 at 12:31 AM.

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    Moderator Devor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRidingHood View Post
    How much research into myths or world creation do people do? Sometimes I feel like all I do is research, but then when I go to write, I feel like I'm just writing an essay, not fiction. How do you find a balance?
    If your writing feels like an essay, I don't think the problem is in your research. You could end up with the same problem in a purely imaginative world.

    I'm going to refer you to this thread from elsewhere on these forums, and specifically to Ouroboros' remarks on page 2 about "info-littering," a phrase I rather hope to see become popular parlance.

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