Thursday, November 18, 2010

Researching with Stephen Tremp

Today I welcome author Stephen Tremp!

Writers love to write. It is the research that some are not prepared to do.

Me, I really don’t struggle very much as I love what I do. I love performing due diligence in my research. Much of the two years I spent writing Breakthrough was devoted to researching the latest and greatest in the realm of theoretical physics. It is this love, the passion, that drives me to pen a story that is as accurate as possible. The physical settings, restaurants, and universities are all real and need to be described accurately as readers may be familiar with these places. So does the detective’s investigation and police procedures. Same with weapons. How many rounds does a Smith & Wesson model 1006 10 mm hold in a magazine (there could be more than one answer). Better get it right. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies are great resources.

Ultimately, when one performs research, they should want to add to an existing body of knowledge (BOK), that is, a set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a particular domain. Of course, no one will ever complete an existing BOK. They can only add something new to it while leaving suggestions for further research that they or someone else can perform.

Problem: Often writers cannot perform research simply because they are unable to. They do not have the proper resources. Solution: research the research of others (and give them credit).

Example: I’m an author who writes action Near Future Sci-Fi action. I have to have at least a basic working knowledge of physics. Problem: Sometimes we just don’t have access to the necessary resources to carry out adequate research. I don’t have a particle accelerator in my garage (which would be most helpful). Solution: I have to research the research of other people. I read a lot of books on physics and some of the greatest scientific minds, dead and alive. And I read peer reviewed articles, which is the subjecting of an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field. So I use their research. And I remember to give them credit.

Here’s on exercise: make two lists. One of topics you would like to research and one people who have a deep understanding of such topics. Then, go to YouTube. Example: I type in a subject like CERN, Large Hadron Collider, theoretical physics. Or a person like Alan Guth (theoretical physicist and cosmologist at M.I.T). I also use Google Earth, yearly weather reports, and customer reviews. Honestly, there is so much information available at my fingertips, the biggest struggle I have is sorting through the wealth of information and eliminating data.

As fiction writers, there are a number of areas you should have a basic working knowledge, such as criminology and forensics. A great example of a blogger who performs her due dillegence in research is Clarissa Draper. Example: go to her Web site and in the SEARCH BOX type in Forensics or Poison, then scroll to the top of the blog. There you will find well researched and detailed posts (with sources) regarding guns, autopsies, how a corpses deteriorates under certain conditions, blood stains and patterns, rigormortis and time of death, and other relevant and very interesting topics.

In this day of real time information and people’s fascination with everything CSI, you will need to present your events in a manner that is accurate, insightful, and is also a great place to plant clues for later use in the story. Be sure you use reliable sources. Just because you see something explained on CSI doesn’t mean it’s necessarily accurate. You will need to be, as our hostess Diane claims, be scary organized.

Please join me Friday as I visit Karen Gowan at Coming Down From The Mountain as we wind down the final tour stop of my Virtual Blog Tour 2010! And discuss “Write Another Book, For Pete’s Sake!”.

Stephen Tremp is author of the action thriller Breakthrough . You can visit Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs where Breakthrough is available for purchase and download to all eReaders.

23 comments:

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Interesting interview! I am amazed at people who do this kind of research! Way to go. Enjoying this tour.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

excellent interview, research to me is as important as the finsished book or in my case poem.
When I was doing a blog fest for Arlee about music I did my research for what I wanted to write about, the same thing happened when I discovered the area I live most of the land was owned my the son of Percy Byshee Shelley and Mary Shelley infamous for writing Frankinstien, I researched into the area and into their lives, very interesting.

Have a good day
Yvonne,

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you can't find the information yourself, find someone who does know!
And you don't have a particle accelerator in your garage? Dude, I have a Cassan teleporter in mine! It's the only way to travel.

N. R. Williams said...

I love watching the History and Discovery channels and learning all kinds of interesting things. And Dr. I never remember his name, Asian American guy...I know you know Stephen because you blogged about him. I mean, invisibility cloaks? How cool. The History did a special on weather control...we are already doing it...scary. You can attack your enemy with hurricanes and other things and leave no trace. Well, while I love learning about this stuff and I also love reading books that use this stuff...I am a die hard fantasy author. Great post Stephen. Thank you Diane for hosting him.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Jemi Fraser said...

I love researching - I tend to get lost in it when I'm supposed to be writing! :)

Stephen Tremp said...

Terry, I find research is the fun part of writing. I love it. Its not boring at al. And I like to learn new stuff.

Yvonne, that is really interesting tidbit. Are there folklore stories to be told about things that go bump in the night?

Alex, I do have an interocitor and a flux capacitor on my Christmas List.

NR, that's Dr. Michio Kaku. I was just watching some of his stuff on Hulu.com last night. I have his books and reference them often.

Jemi, that's easy to do. I get side tracked with research and sometimes end up doing more than necessary just because I'm finding out interesting things.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, you mentioned my blog! How cool is that!? Well, I'm like you, I love doing research. It's so important. And people, read this man's book. I'm reading it now and from the beginning, it takes you on a wild ride. Note to readers: Don't start chapter one before bed, I was so wound up from the chase in Chapter one, I had a hard time getting to sleep.

Thanks, LDW for hosing!

CD

Helen Ginger said...

Researching always seems like a chore, but once you get into it, you can get lost in it. At some point you have to stop saying, ooh, look at this...and start saying, okay, I've got enough information.

Thanks for the ideas and links, Stephen.

Helen

Stephen Tremp said...

Clarissa, thanks for your support! Your blog, along with our hostess Diane, are definately two of the better ones in Blogdom regarding research.

Helen, I agree. You have to know when to say when, step back, and say that's enough.

Diane, I almost forgot, thanks for hosting me today!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I enjoy the researching part. I often find myself looking up tangent information that I don't need now, but who knows maybe in the future I will.

Jai Joshi said...

Great guest, Diane!

Hey Stephen!

The internet is such a wonderful resource, alone with libraries and encyclopeadias. And I agree that we always have to double check our sources. Just because wiki says something doesn't mean that's true!

My first book as a historical fiction novel set in 16th century India. I did tons of research on the internet and in every book I could find but ultimately I had to go to India itself and see the places I was writing about. That was the most incredible research I've ever done.

Jai

The Golden Eagle said...

I enjoy researching, especially if it's for a writing project. I've never really used YouTube as a resource, though; I'll have to keep that in mind!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Happy to host you, Stephen!

Old Kitty said...

Excellent piece Stephen and thanks L Diane Wolf for hosting! I would also add to use your local libraries as a starting point - library staff are a font of all knowledge when it comes to starting a research on a certain theme - or they ought to be able to point you to what database to use and how!!

Take care
x

Arlee Bird said...

I can really can involved with research as I like to make sure I have details correct and once I start researching, one thing leads to another and I'm just learning all kinds of interesting new stuff. But if you're writing about real world things it's best to be accurate so nobody can call you out on it and make you lose credibility.
Breakthrough came across as being very accurate and realistically detailed.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Stephen Tremp said...

Holly, I have my JUNKYARD that I've been visiting a lot lately. These are spare parts I've been putting there for a few years. They sure come in handy now.

Jai, I seldom use Wikipedia. Its not a respected source in many circles simply because anyone can go in and make changes to the content.

Your historical book sounds exciting. Best wishes for your success!

Golden Eagle, I love YouTube as so many respected researchers are going viral with their lectures.

Kitty, I was just at the library today picking the brains of the ladies at the reference desk. They do know their stuff.

Susanne Drazic said...

Interesting guest post. I've got to check out YouTube more. Sounds like I'm missing out on some interesting stuff.

Stephen Tremp said...

Arlee, people will call you out so its best to cite sources, I had that problem a year or so ago with someone because I did not cite my sources. Lesson learned. Cite credible sources!

Suzanne, YouTube is a great place to research the research, just make sure you follow credible sources because there is a lot of novices who post their lectures but probably should not because they just are not at the place where their content is professional grade.

Diane, thanks for hosting me! This was a fun blog to write.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Stephen, I've been following your work for some time. Thank you for this. I'm doing some editing for a client right now and thought I throw this in, based on my experience with what I see new writers do. They fall in love with their research and want to include everything they've learned in the novel--at the expense of the story. The book then becomes way too texty. The language often moves into the passive tense. The characters get lost in the researched detail.

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging writers' resources at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

PS here! Wanted you to know Stephen and Diane, I linked back to this post in my blog on editing, www.thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane and Steve .. as I thought interesting .. and fascinating to where we find information. I love your 'resort' to Clarissa's blog because she's got so much information available .. and Wikipedia .. I can understand your feelings - I'm aware when I'm there .. but get the 'vibes' and check if I feel necessary.

I admire writers thorough research .. makes it so much more interesting and we know it's accurate as can be ..

Thanks - loving this tour .. enjoy the weekends .. Hilary

Ellen aka Ella said...

Diane and Stephen, great job! I loved
the insight and being thorough!
Can't wait to read it! I love how much work you did just to bring the story alive; You sure you don't have that accelerator in your garage?!

The Words Crafter said...

Great information! I LOVE to do research! I can get lost for hours reading information about something online. It's been very helpful with my nano story, too. Soon, I'm going to have to take a day trip to Durham (where the story is set) so I can get an accurate feel for the place. Maybe two trips, or an overnight stay.

Thanks for posting the link to Clarissa, too!