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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Surprise finds and research rabbit holes


cj Sez: Meandering around my computer folders last week, I happened upon a “webarchive” document with info about some of my ancestors. It had been downloaded into my writing flash drive on Sept 2 . . . except I don’t remember doing that. Not only do I have a separate family history folder for things that I find, but I don’t have access to a Swedish church registry. Where did it come from? A computer ghost, no doubt.

The discovery started me down a rabbit hole of Googling for more information. After a few days, I found a Swedish forum conversation from 2007 that mentioned my great aunt’s name and asking for any U.S. information. So of course, I clicked on the file and sent an email to the writer, fully expecting my note to go to the little bit bucket in the sky. Guess what? I got a response! Now what? I get to develop an exciting, new relationship with a hitherto-unknown distant relative is what.

The thing is: Days and days of Google searches are pretty much how I write my novels. I like to play hide and seek with my characters. I hide an obstacle in someone’s way then seek out a logical/believable solution to it. That can take days and days of online research. The process keeps the storytelling new and exciting for me because I learn all kinds of neat things (learning something new every day is my personal goal). I admit I’m not a pre-write outliner or plotter. But once I’ve told the story, I go back over it chapter by chapter, scene by scene to chart the plot points, polish, add or delete as necessary, and make sure I haven’t dropped any threads that need to be tied up as the novel ends. I do the same thing with developing my characters, working to make them well-rounded and believable individuals.

Every writer has a special writing style. What’s yours? I’d guess that you’ve read zillions of ideas and advice on how to improve it. My advice? If it works for you (that's the key thing), don’t mess with it. 

That’s all for now. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj

The toon is from my Facebook page . . . love it. 

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