Doing Your Research (or not)

Well what a week of downloads it’s been. I have so far managed to download manuals/info on the following topics:

1 The Short Story Tool Kit (with a little help from this fella)
2 How To Change A Tyre
3 Pronouns, Possessive Nouns and Reflexive Pronouns: Where To Put Them And When (that was a riveting read, I can tell you)
4 Why Is My Washing Machine Making That Noise? hints and tips on white goods maintenance
5 Alcohol Use and Misuse (research, obviously)
6 How To Make Yourself Psychic (more research for a book I’m writing. Or rather not writing – spending too much time on…er… research…)
7 Why Your Protagonist Needs An Antagonist
8 How To Find An Agent

Which leads me on to one of my favourite/most disliked pastimes: Displacement Activity. As writers, you know as well as I do that we have all fought against/given in to this at some point during our writing hours. Some days the words flow and we sail down the river of creativity, landing at the end of the day on a well-structured and grammatically secure island. Other days we go into battle with our editing sword, slicing and cutting through superfluous adjectives and watch with glee as pointless characters bite the dust, leaving us to survey the scene with a warm feeling of proofread satisfaction. Other days it’s a bit more/less more focussy…where you are inclined to make up words because they sound good but look ridiculous on the page, or fall into the Well of Research where you could possibly drown without realising it.
But wait! Research is good! Research is necessary! I tend to combine my real-life research with real-life activities (rather than the on-line version which eats away the minutes and gorges the hours) – for example, I needed a minor character who at first glance seemed rather unlikely – until I got cut up on a roundabout recently by a white haired driver of later years who blared her horn at me, undertaking me and several other drivers on the left before cutting in front of us all causing a lot of brake action. Mr. Big Car in front of me was not impressed and mouthed something unpleasant at this driver and then accelerated at speed into the four centimetre gap in front of him. Now if I’d met this elderly driver in a cafe or shop would I think ‘Blimey, there’s that bat-sh*t crazy driver who nearly killed us all’ or would I think ‘That elderly lady needs a bit of help with those heavy bags’ (cue Helpful Citizen)? See – unlikely character. She’s got a part in that novel I’m writing. She might be the small character that holds the key to the whole thing, whatever the whole thing turns out to be. Better do some research on that then.