Saturday, 14 May 2011

When research attacks

This post started in my mind when I was talking with a friend, and said, “Although, I must admit--it would be fascinating to have a psychotic break from a research point of view.”

When you have a thought like this, it confirms you are a scientist. Or a writer.

A good writer wants it all to be as accurate as possible. Or, I want it all to be as accurate as possible—I can’t really speak for the rest of you. But if you have ever gotten wasted to experience your character’s hangover, or stood outside in the rain in the middle of a summer storm to see how quickly it takes your underwear to get wet, or tried keeping yourself up to see what hallucinations are like, then you might have a similar madness to my own.

The internet is great for factual research, but when it comes to subjective encounters, nothing beats some personal first-hand experience.

This gets bad when you wonder how your character feels when they accidentally put their foot in their blazing campfire, or has a psychotic break, or takes a tumble down a steep slope.

Have you ever wanted to do some up-close-and-personal research, or does common sense usually get in the way (as it should)?

Have you ever actually done something for the sake of the story? I know I have. It wasn’t pretty.

1 comment:

  1. I've done up-close-and-personal research whenever I knew it wouldn't cause me trouble (and, on occasion, accidentally--my first hangover was totally not on purpose, but certainly helped me get a better grasp on the topic). Generally speaking, when it comes to more extreme ideas for that kind of research, though, I skip out. No drugs, no purposefully putting myself in terrible situations I'd have a hard time managing. Sleep deprivation is a good way of describing the 'line', for me--it's not exactly healthy, but it's something I still have a measure of control over. I'd be willing to give that a try once, if circumstances permitted.