I Can Do it All (in theory)

Today I am supposed to talk about the most interesting research I’ve ever done for a story.

One of my favorite things to do in life is to learn. I’d be a student forever if I never had to take tests (or pay tuition). I love to read to absorb knowledge and learn. This tendency has become more acute the older I get. I now read as many non-fiction books as I do fiction. The ratio went from never reading anything just for the sake of information, to maybe one or two a year, to maybe one a month, and now, I’m always reading one fiction book and one non-fiction book. Every other book I read is for information.

Sometimes the facts I read about spring into story ideas. Sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes I end up using a writing project as an excuse to research something interesting.

It’s a “chicken or the egg” type situation. It works both ways.

I’ve studied tourism in Indonesia, ghost stories in India, strip malls and politics in California, the history and geography of the town I live in. I learned the theory of how to pick a lock, how to say things in Latin, and how much information the human brain can store. I’ve studied the affect of too much adrenaline in a body, Greek and Roman mythology, the nine circles of Hell from bottom to top, and just about every medieval weapon imaginable.

And that is probably my favorite research I’ve done. In my first attempt at writing a novel, I wrote several intricate weapons-training scenes. So I researched how to shoot a bow and crossbow, how to properly throw knives (even bought some for practice), how to fight with sai as well as staves, and how techniques differ for sword-fighting with a fencing foil verses a cutlass. I even researched how to throw an appropriate punch (although I still haven’t mastered that one). I certainly don’t know how to do any actual fighting, weapons or unarmed, but it made me feel pretty empowered knowing, in theory, how to kick ass.

In theory, I could learn to do anything.

Research is a huge part of being a writer. We can’t tell convincing stories about anything without learning about whatever subject we need to write in-detail about. As I writer, I never need an excuse to do research. I will always be a learner, and while I may never become a master at any of the subjects I research, it’s enough to make me a convincing writer.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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