Research

What kinds of things have you researched in the name of writing?

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Whisper it in case anyone is checking your search history

Sometimes it’s harmless stuff: what plants grow in the winter months, when are cucumbers at their best, lunar cycles, google maps locations, hair color diagrams, eye color diagrams, synonyms, color wheels, pictures of stone

Sometimes it’s stuff that probably gets me on some strange watch list: tiny weapons that could kill someone, small sharp things, how to naturally decompose a body

Sometimes it’s stuff that will make someone ask questions: signs you’re in an abusive relationship, anger management tips, signs someone is angry

Sometimes You Need to Let it Breathe

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Since I started this crazy journey, I’ve heard the same piece of advice a lot.  Put the book down and walk away.  Leave it on a shelf.  Let it breathe.  You can come back to it later and really look at it with fresh eyes.

So I did.

I can’t tell you when the last time I picked up my high-fantasy story (readers of the blog will know EXACTLY which one I’m referencing) and its sequel was.  I haven’t looked at the outline for the third book in the series.  I haven’t thought about the characters in awhile.  I haven’t given it much thought at all, actually.  I’ve poured my attention into other (bill-paying) things.

Then my phone rang.  My favorite beta reader (oops, I’m not supposed to admit I have favorites) wanted to make sure she had the most recent copy because she’d been thinking about it and wanted to read it again.

What a good idea.  I think I’ll read it along with you.

The result has been a FIRE rekindled.  We are back to spending lots of time talking about why we love (or hate) the characters.  I’m completely engrossed in how much she talks about their world.  It’s clearly becoming as real for her as it always has been for me and that’s just…cool.

So now I’ll pass that advice on to you.

Do you have a work that is stalled out?  Is it not getting the agent/publisher love that you wanted?  Is the editing turning up small changes when you feel in your heart it may need bigger?  Have you already made a big (ahem-point of view altering) change that you aren’t sure worked?

Let it breathe.

Walk away.

Give it space.

Then read it like it was brand new.  It’s a cool feeling.