Researching Fiction as a Participant Observer

on Sep 30 in Writing by

In a couple Saturdays — October 14th — I’ll be teaching at the Penn Writer’s Conference. If you’re interested, sign up and check out the other courses being offered.

Early in my current novel, I created a character who had a good job and a loving family, but who, it became apparent, was interested in seeing a profressional dominatrix. He does this and finds that he likes it. A lot. This kind of thing will happen in fiction: a plot idea or a character will twist out of the experience of the author and into another world, which is when the fun begins. At the same time, fiction depends, in some measure, upon verisimilitude. It doesn’t make bad writing good, but it makes good writing better. I want to explore how to do research when what you are writing about is beyond your experience and ability to imagine and not available from the library or the web. There is a practical side, a whimsical side, a challenging side and an entrepreneurial aspect to doing research as well as a personal aspect; namely, how not to risk your marriage or your life. Please bring a gnarly idea or challenging research topic that you are currently facing or expect to be facing in the near future in the form of a character description — the more vexing, the better.

Comments are closed.