What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

24 March 2011

Research

So, today's writing post is not so much about what I think or do or how I write or any of the usual writery post stuff. It's not even about the crusader challenge, which I considered but elected to skip because I couldn't get my head round it. And it's not like I write good challenge posts, anyway.

No, today's blog is like a little episode of Jeopardy!, which is to say I'll be stating my thesis in the form of a question: Where do you go for research?

Do you have to actually leave your house and go experience the things your characters are doing? Or do you call on our friend Google? Or are you old-school and reach for, of all things, a print book of some sort?

I used to read school stories, draw on my own school experience, and then just making things up from there to write a school story. Or my kid version of "historical fiction" was pretty much entirely things I made up with a few tidbits of Little House thrown in for good measure, regardless of what time period my story was in. (I wrote a story set in ancient Egypt once, for a school assignment. The kid in the story rode a raft through the canals & then down mini-canals that branched off to check on crops, because in my head it just made sense that a canal system would work that way. My teacher was completely bewildered at where I got this information and wasn't satisfied with my telling her, "I made it up!")

But now, that doesn't really work. For my NaNo novel, I've done a lot of research into Austin-y stuff, since that's were the novel is set; my biggest problem there is deciding how much to include in the novel. But I'm still clueless about how Natasha's boyfriend acts-- what do musicians do when they aren't playing? How do gigs at restaurants work? Or at coffee shops? And since I'm like an old person when it comes to loud music, my opportunities for live research are kind of limited. But perhaps I should just endure it and go see a concert or two, in the interest of getting it right in the novel.

So I ask again: How do you research what you write? Do you have to do things in person, or can you virtually learn stuff? What is my logical first step in learning about musicians?

8 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

I typically use the internet first when I research. I have gone "on location" to a place that I planned to set my characters in, and I did find that very helpful. I even plan to go back during May/June when the actual scene takes place. As for musicians, personally I'd look online first. Perhaps find some on Facebook or blogs that you can talk to. Then branch out if necessary.

Kari Marie said...

You need a spy in the music industry! I can probably hook you up if you want to talk to someone. My husband is a sound engineer and for years did the live performance thing. I spent the first 7 years we dated hanging out with him and the musicians he worked with (at gigs and socially), so whether you want a general idea or more specific details, I might have someone you can talk to.

If you had the opportunity, I would go see a live show, for the experience of it.

As far as how musicians act, it depends a lot on the type of band, what they play, where they play, etc.

Email me if you want spy assistance: karimariewhite(at)gmail(dot)com

Julie Hedlund said...

I definitely start with the Internet. For settings you can use Google Earth and even YouTube videos. There are lots of instructional "How to" videos that might be good for learning the technicalities of a certain instrument, etc.

I don't believe going "on location" is the only way, but I'm sure it helps. Otherwise, try to interview people!

JEFritz said...

I'm good with virtual learning, although I think face to face interaction is really the best. You can stop and ask them things you don't understand/are curious about, which you can't really do on the internet (well, you can, but people aren't as helpful).

I think the logical first step in learning about musicians is talking to one. You might already know someone, maybe a friend of a friend or someone on the internet. Start asking around!

The Golden Eagle said...

I try the Internet first, Googling and using Wikipedia and other Wiki sites; next comes the library, if I know they have books on the subject I'm researching; and sometimes I'll ask people I know, but not that often.

Su said...

All good ideas! Good thing I live in the self-proclaimed Live Music Capitol of the World. ;) Actually, it's kind of embarrassing that I live here and don't go to concerts.

@Kari: I might take you up on that! I'll go to a concert first to find out just how much I don't know.

a runners' life said...

The Internet is a great place to start. You can get some background info and maybe locate a musician or two who you could contact and get them to share their experiences with you. Plus it's also a good excuse to go see a live gig or two. Maybe there's people at your university who are musicians and might be able to help you out.

Su said...

Ah! I tend to forget my classmates at times like this. I'm sure I'm surrounded by musicians without even knowing it!