This is a guest post by author Jay Noel. He has a great book coming out in 2013. It’s a story that has pirates, ninjas, and samurai warriors. On top of all that it’s Steampunk. How cool is that?
Research – Love It or Hate It…I Kinda Like It.
Despite the fact that I write speculative fiction, I felt the need to do some research after the brainstorming and outlining process for my current project. I’ve set my novel in an alternative history, where steam is the main source of power. There’s a little bit of fantasy, and a whole lot of action. Although I’m essentially world building, I still wanted to base the technology and the world I was creating with reality.
I’ve always thought science fiction’s foundation comes down to one question: What If?
Research is a great way to get creative juices flowing and help shape the world you’re creating…but it should never interfere with the writing process. Well, that’s what I told myself, anyway.
I first started research steam power and the mechanics of that. Lots of fun, and I even included a basics of steampower in one of my 26 posts when I participated in the Blogging A-Z Challenge (which I did Steampunk style).
Next, I have a Jules Vernesque Nautilus in my novel, so I did some research on early and modern submarines. I also learned that I’d NEVER want to spend any time underwater in one.
I enjoy world history, and I wanted to really twist things up in my novel. My world is loosely based on the 19th century, but since it’s my world, I’ll do what I want! Going back to “What If?”, I thought: “What if the Europeans never conquered The New World?” In North America, what brought about the downfall of American Indians was their inability to unite and fight against their invaders. Not in my novel! Or “What if an empire based on the Spanish Empire became the biggest Super Power in the world?” There are definitely some very recognizable elements in my story, but with a strange fun spin on things.
I have lots of cool people in book including gunfighters, ninjas, pirates, and samurai warriors. It was a blast when it came to studying them. I wanted the reader to easily identify the characteristics of these awesome people , yet employ the fantastical at the same time. Sure, I got the urge to go buy some shuriken and throw these throwing stars into a tree, but I didn’t. Probably not a good idea. In Hollywood, ninjas wear black. I learned ninjas actually wore regular clothing when going undercover. And if they were to wear any kind of uniform, it would be navy blue. So my ninjas wear navy blue.
Overall, when it comes to doing research, writers do have to be careful. It’s so easy to get carried away. Doing research can be an excuse to not do any actual writing. That’s where outlining the novel comes in handy – I knew what elements I wanted to have in my story, so I could do just enough research to be a little dangerous. I figured that I can always go back and fill in some things. I didn’t want to go overboard with technical details.
That just seems a little boring to me. I wanted to make sure to be able to paint a vivid picture without throwing up a bunch of researched facts onto the pages of my novel. The STORY COMES FIRST, right?
Jay Noel is a one-time high school English teacher, but now works in medical sales. He’s been blogging since 2005, and has spent most of his writing career as a freelance editor. After finally gathering enough courage, he has taken the leap to writing his own work. His first novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is an Asian-inspired Steampunk story filled with pirates, ninjas, gunslingers, and samurai warriors.
They say you must write what you love, and damnit, that’s what he’s done. It will be published in early 2013 by Hydra Publications.
His novel can be found at www.jaynoel.com