From Radine Trees Nehring. (With difficulty, since Blogger and my computer seem not to speak the same language. In fact, this is the third time I have attempted to write and post this blog this morning. Yikes!)
In spite of the fact all my novels are set at real locations, realistically depicted, and I have to do a lot of on-site research to be sure I 'get it right,' my primary research tool is quiet contemplation. It's the thinking part of research that makes all our stories unique.
Two of us could choose the same location, talk to the same experts, read the same information, base our plots on a newspaper article we both read. But, when we write, it's what we think that sets us apart and causes us to create two very different stories.
(This thinking is what really intrigues me about writing, and, according to the opinions of several people I admire, it goes way beyond writing. Deep thinkers are important to the world, not to mention democracy.)
Probably the best tool to set off our thinking process is simply living. We observe people, hear and participate in conversations, feel emotions, experience joy, fear, disappointment, sadness, happiness, love.We read about current and historical events. We live in--or travel to--various locations on our earth. We use our five senses to understand our world. And then we think.
In addition, there are of course the actions we normally designate as research that give us something to think about:
1. Learning what the lives and jobs of people appearing in our story are like--including professional people such as police officers.
2. Reading or hearing history or life circumstances that will have an impact on the story in any way. One of my valued research sources for JOURNEY TO DIE FOR, partly set in the historic district of Van Buren, Arkansas, was access to the diary of a Civil War soldier who fought in and around Van Buren.
3. And, of course, there's getting to know the story location thoroughly--what we see and what our senses tell us--especially what we feel as we put ourselves 'on location.' The location does not need to be a real place on the map, of course. It just has to be real for the person writing about it. That's something thinking can accomplish.
These are just a few of my thoughts (!) about how important carefully considered thinking is for all writers, as well as for people in general.
I bet you already thought of this. Right?