Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

May 27, 2010

Research or Discovery?

Filed under: Frank Remarks,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 12:03 PM

Had a radio interview the other day and was asked what kind of research I do first when writing my novels.

I replied that I didn’t do research first. I discovered first.

Let me explain.

Like most novelists, I sit down and write a brief general synopsis of the plot I have in mind. The general synopsis could be a short as just a half dozen or so paragraphs.

Then I take keywords from that plot synopsis and enter them into Google, and keeping an opened ended mind, I see what search items come up.  I take anything I discover that is at least somewhat connected to the keyword and copy and paste the search result into a Word doc making no other judgment except that it pertains to the search word.

If a particular search listing seems interesting, I click through to the site, blog, video, discussion – or what have you – and view the entry. That site, blog, video or discussion might have links that lead me to other sources of information that I would not have picked up with the keyword search. I go to those links and make notes on the information there in the Word doc.

At this point, I have not done any, what could be called, thorough research – just chasing out keywords and links to other sources of information that the keyword pointed to.

Basically – opened ended discovery to see where the keywords take me. And in the process, help me flesh out the plot in more detail. Once I have a very good mulitpage synopsis of the plot based on my discovery process, I then do what is called, in depth research.

Sometimes, but not that often, the discovery might lead to a dead end when I do my research or turn out to be something I didn’t want to use. If so, I drop it and try another route.

I’ve found discovery t be much more valuable than research. I have found strictly by accidental discovery elements of my stories that I would never have thought of – even great plot twisting endings.

Try using the open ended discovery process sometime. See if it works for your stories.

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