Ann Patchett writes books I love to read, due in large part to the rich texture and sense of place they contain. She uses a lot of words to create the images of the scenery, the environment, the neighborhood, the people… “costuming”, as she referred to it.
When I write, I find that those things are also some of my favorite parts to create. But as I have worked on some stories, there has come a point where I stopped, unsure of the businesses along main street in my town, or the kind of hat my character would wear or the way the train would feel as they ride…
Sometimes, I can do a little googling and find an answer and keep going. Sometimes it isn’t that easy.
Ann said a lot of memorable things last week at Fayetteville Public Library, but the one thing that I most needed to hear was “research after”. In other words, write the story or book first, without worrying about the details so much. After the plot and arc and resolution are done, then you can figure out what kind of car the banker drove.
It’s so simple. And yet, sometimes what seems easy is almost impossible to get to on our own, isn’t it?
What’s your solution for details – do you like to sit down after all the research is done? Or do you wait until after? Or something in between?