Factual research for a work of fiction is a two edged sword. What you learn can be fascinating but it can also feel like you’ve dumped a big pile of rubbish all over your story that you now need to wade through and decide what’s useful and what’s trash. So how do you rise above your research and find the truth of your own story?
1. DON’T JUST CUT AND PASTE
It’s tempting when you find a juicy story or piece of information to plonk it straight into your script. Consider first how you want to use it, or why it is attractive to you? Does it fit with the story you are writing? If not bin it.
2. TAKE TIME TO PROCESS
A lot of new information can be overwhelming. It could completely change the direction of your story. This could be a good thing – or a huge distraction. Don’t be intimidated. Wait and see which facts resonate with you and emerge in your writing naturally.
3. CHECK THE TRUTH BEHIND THE FACTS
Special interest groups and their campaigns can be a great resource. But check your facts are coming from an unbiased source or at least understand the bias at play.
4. LOOK AT BOTH SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT
Don’t just read research that confirms your own world view. How can you write your antagonist if you don’t know what they believe and why? You might find something that surprises you and adds credibility to your story.
5. YOU DON’T OWE ANYONE ANYTHING
Your greatest strength as a writer is your independence. Maintain it at all costs and don’t ‘get into bed with’ activists, governments or even people you interview who naturally enough have their own outlook on life. Stay true to yourself and your story.
6. BUT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for yourself and your writing. Be accurate and truthful in your portrayals of events and characters in the world you’ve created, especially if your story is based on real events.
7. FOLLOW YOUR INTEGRITY when you write and trust yourself to find your own truth behind the lines.
What’s the strangest fact you have uncovered and how did it change your story? Leave a comment below or tweet me @emin32 on Twitter. Happy Writing!