I seem to attract authors whose names are either "Sandra" or "Saundra" for this feature. I find this amusing, although I don't know why. =) Enjoy!
Unmasking the Procrastination Disguised as Research
Written by Saundra Mitchell
Book Title: "Shadowed Summer"
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
Worldbuilding is an important step for any writer, regardless of genre, but sometimes, it's the little detail that derails a perfectly good story in progress. However, what I've found in my experience is that sometimes, all that "research" is really just a way to avoid doing the work. When we're stuck on the seemingly huge problem of whether or not Small Town Y has a Starbucks or not, we're actually procrastinating.
So how do you tell the difference between research and procrastination? These are my 2 inventory questions:
1) Have I spent more than a half an hour looking for information that plays into a single line in the book? After a half an hour on the website for the Louisiana Native Plant Society (http://www.lnps.org/) trying to decide which wildflowers my protagonist should weave into a crown, I had to admit - I'm procrastinating.
2) Have I created a situation in my book that's impossible to resolve without researching, that did not exist when I sat down to write the novel? Suddenly deciding that the character who has the only clue that can solve the mystery speaks only Estonian, and thus, I need to learn enough Estonian to write her dialogue? Time to admit I'm procrastinating.
Those little notes of truth and honestly help connect us to the reader, so don't give up on them entirely. Now, when I start my books, I do three pieces of necessary research to build my foundation- before the first words are put on the page.
1) What kind of trees can my characters see out the window? (Google "Native plants + location")
2) What kind of food will my characters have for breakfast? (Google "local eateries + location")
3) Do my characters say Coke, soda, pop, fizzy water, or something else entirely? (http://popvssoda.com:2998/)
Obviously my three questions are modern day, real world, and US-centric, so you might have to come up with a basic three on your own, but you get the idea. This information may never make it into the book, but it does help me get into the rhythm of time and place. Most importantly, it prevents me from wandering onto the Internet in search of the name of that one street that I saw one time in that one town I whose name I can't remember.
Because that, my friends, is procrastination- no matter how important it seems at the time!
Where To Get The Book: Amazon
Saundra's Website: www.saundramitchell.com