Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Research? What research?

Oftentimes when you're writing a script, you'll be faced with a character doing something you've never done yourself. Like winching in a trawl net. Or taking an overdose of Dexedrine. Or blasting someone with a shotgun. That kind of stuff.

I once heard a story about the guys who wrote City Slickers. Neither of them had ever been to a ranch, let alone been on a horse. Did they go on a road trip? Take riding lessons? Nope, they rang a dude ranch and spoke to one of the cowboys for 15 minutes. That was their research for the film.

There's also romance writer Nora Roberts. If you've never heard of her, trust me - your mother has. Roberts has sold millions of dollars worth of books and it's usually the same story in a different exotic location. But the novelist herself doesn't leave the house to research the locations - she does it all online.

And while I do like to write about places I've been, I do a lot of the other research I need on the web too. What's it like to fire a paintgun? I have no idea, but Google can tell me. 

There's two other ways you can deal with describing something you personally haven't done. First of all, don't think , "I haven't experienced this myself, I can't write about it". You can - you probably haven't battled zombies, but most writers seem to have at least one zombie script under their belts! Use your imagination and the rest is easy.

Or - if you know someone with specialist knowledge, ask them. This is by far the best option, because there's nothing quite like someone who's actually been there and done that. For everything else, there's the intra-web...


Leah Marie Brown said...

Love your blog. I am a writer, too (though I am in the US and not your very lovely Ireland). I would love to know your thoughts on serendipity and writing. I hope you will visit my blog.

Eilis Mernagh said...

Thanks Leah! I'll be sure to visit your site as it looks great.