Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Glory of Research...and some other stuff relating to Flesh.

Writers almost always have a specific process. A method that is integral to aid them in the cultivation of the world they build and the characters they choose to inhabit it. This research is a crucial stepping stone. I cannot emphasise enough how vital it can be. In Flesh, for instance, a certain amount of realism must be maintained when it comes to developing our Post-Zombie-Apocalypse world. Would the cars still start if their batteries had been sitting idle for months on end? Which food goods would still be edible? What drugs would people be attempting to source? Would there be changes to the natural world following such an event? For much of this, Wikipedia and other online Encyclopedias can prove to be a very good friend.

But the second and most important reason that people wind up doing research is that it gives a level of detail to the story that makes everything more concrete and specific. So you find some interesting fact about shooting a gun or clearing a room and then you work it into one of the characters and it helps to fill out their back story. Does she know how to shoot a gun and clean it? How? When did she learn and why? Not many women I know have ever even picked up a fire-arm. So maybe she was on her high school softball team instead and doesn't mind swinging a bat. Give your characters some thought. What exactly makes them tick? Nina D'Aleo featured a fab Character Profile on her blog. Check it out here.

Finn holding a towel in a rainstorm, perhaps?
Today, I thought I’d share some of my own research methods that helped to form ‘Flesh’. And while some of this might seem to the untutored eye to be the flimsiest of pretexts for googling images of hot men, having a picture to base a character on does do wonders for consistency. Don't even get me started on the joys of making maps. A few years back I spent an entire day creating one of Blackstone, the town featured in Flesh. An entire day moving little lines around and neatly labelling every last thing. Choosing exactly which font looked the coolest. Naming streets I then never referred back to. But it's a really groovy map and I'm very proud of it. I'd pop it up for you to see but I can't figure out how, sorry. My knowledge of technology is a bit basic at times. 

A picture of Dan's arse as he grasps a chain? Could be.
So maybe you do need to be careful that research doesn't turn into procrastination. If you've spent three solid days scrolling through baby naming websites then you might need to just stop being silly and sit down and write the damn thing. Call your hero Mr X for a few chapters, he won't mind. Chances are a name will come to you somewhere down the track.

How about a specific play list to help create the mood for your piece? No, shush again, it can help. Try it and see. But I do suggest picking songs you know well otherwise you can wind up just getting distracted by the music. Apart from the awesome Horror Pops I chose an all Australian line up. If you haven't heard of some of these artists, go look 'em up. You won't be disappointed.

Dark Storm by The Jezabels
Beating like a Drum by Eskimo Joe
Where they Wander by the Horror Pops
Fool for You by John Butler Trio
Breathe Me by Sia
Easy Way Out by Gotye
What Do I Do by Lanie Lane
Rattlin' Bones by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
The Weather by Butterfly Boucher
This Heart Attack by Faker
Monsters by Something for Kate
Sunsets by Powderfinger
Thump by Bertie Blackman


  1. Good post, Kylie! I did lol when I read " And while some of this might seem to the untutored eye to be the flimsiest of pretexts for googling images of hot men,"

    1. Thanks, Teresa! The mysterious ways of romance writers are not to be questioned, right? It's all important research. ;)

  2. Thanks Kylie, you've inspired me to undertake more research of my own, because I think I'd need 10 picture of the arse with chain (for reliability and validity purposes, of course).

    1. Rhyll, it's important to be thorough.

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