monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

2 minutes reading time (332 words)

Researching on a Need-to-Know Basis

I've heard some writers complain that they get so caught up doing research they lose sight of what they were planning to write about! I'm more into researching on a need-to-know basis. For my latest book, What World Is Left, I spent about six months doing research -- interviewing my mum,  on whom the book is based, and researching Theresienstadt, the Nazi concentration campwhere she and her family were imprisoned.

As you may know, lately my writing life has been mostly taken up with revising what I call my "George River" manuscript. That tentative title, by the way, is going to go. I'm thinking of new possibilities, and so is my editor Sarah Harvey at Orca Books. In addition to being a wonderful editor and all around wonderful person to know, Sarah is great at coming up with titles. (She's the one who thought of the title for What World Is Left). Anyway, though I am probably just a couple of weeks away from finishing my 2nd draft of the manuscript, I'm STILL doing research. Here's what I need-to-know today: how do sled dogs on a dog team react when another dog team pulls up next to them? I have a scene where this happens in my story, and Sarah has asked me to elaborate. Though I've gone dogsledding, I'm not sure what the answer is.

So what does a writer who needs to do research in a hurry do? I suppose I could Google it. But I have a better plan: I've e-mailed my friend Mark, who lives in Nunavik and who happens to have a dog team of his own... and he says I should go ahead and phone him tonight with my question(s). Which means tomorrow I'll be able to tell you the answer to my burning question. So you see, even when you think the research is done, it isn't. And thank goodness for kind friends who do interesting things and have patience with the writers they know!

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Comments

Guest - deniz on Friday, 13 February 2009 12:09

"I've heard some writers complain that they get so caught up doing research they lose sight of what they were planning to write about! I'm more into researching on a need-to-know basis."
I agree! I'm still editing my last novel as I begin agent-hunting for it, but I've stopped avoiding the new ideas that began trickling in a few months ago (I was trying to get The Face of A Lion wrapped up before I got all excited about completely new stories ) - and I definitely don't want to do any research yet at all! I'm afraid I would get tainted by all the new stuff I'd learn and the story would lose direction - or rather, lose the direction that *my* imagination might otherwise give it :-)

"I've heard some writers complain that they get so caught up doing research they lose sight of what they were planning to write about! I'm more into researching on a need-to-know basis." I agree! I'm still editing my last novel as I begin agent-hunting for it, but I've stopped avoiding the new ideas that began trickling in a few months ago (I was trying to get The Face of A Lion wrapped up before I got all excited about completely new stories ) - and I definitely don't want to do any research yet at all! I'm afraid I would get tainted by all the new stuff I'd learn and the story would lose direction - or rather, lose the direction that *my* imagination might otherwise give it :-)
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