Sunday, 4 November 2007

Half Way!!!

I am most pleased to report that my WIP has just reached the 50,000 mark. Which is interesting as I've only just started Chapter 2...

So what's going on?

The research trip was invaluable, and I'd recommend it to anyone who writes. It has brought my ideas together and I realised that the struggle was in finding the right voice for the novel, but also, the form and structure. The word count consists of a mass of pieces that will need to be stitched together carefully if I'm to get away with it - but on the bright side it fits in beautifully with whole PhD thesis; hybridity in form and content.

Or maybe I'm just being a pessimist and thinking I better crack on given what's lying up in wait for me (an anaesthetist, surgeon, nurses... argh!). Whatever, something has clicked into place.

In hindsight, here's 5 things I've learned/discovered from undertaking a research trip:

1. Note-books are crucial.

Write down everything; tiny things, insignificant things (how much it costs for a coffee, what the light switches look like), obvious things (the weather, the view). Use all your senses - smells, the feel of the wind on your skin, the sound of people's voices. I filled three notebooks and attempted some naive water-colours. They have become invaluable now, as the notes I made, and the things that they reminded me of, (about what I wanted to say, to show, to share, that I also wrote down), have become the basis for the novel.

2. Collect data.

Because my novel is set in Spain, I collected newspapers, bought novels and language dictionaries. I was conscious throughout the entire trip that I was there to absorb and collect, so no wonder I was over on my baggage allowance. Photographs have also been invaluable, when I want to jog my memory about a particular day, or place, I can call up the images and then try to paint that picture in words. I collected music too, as traditional local music is an important part of my novel.

3. Talk to people.

People are the richest form of data we have. I spoke to as many people as I could, listened to their stories. When writing about a place, local people often have local knowledge and can tell you all the quirky stuff that remains embedded in the oral tradition.

4. Let the research mull.

I left the writing alone for a couple of weeks after the trip, and let it all sink in. At first I felt quite overwhelmed by all the info I'd accumulated, and I couldn't see the usefulness in anything. But then the dust settled and things began to come to the surface, to make sense. I felt doors opening up in the writing that had been closed before.

5. I can't think of a fifth thing.

If anything, it's come as a bit of a surprise just how beneficial the research trip was, in terms of; getting ideas; developing existing ones; gathering practical information (dates, places, weather etc.); coming to terms with the project and my intentions.

Perhaps when the novel is in its final stages, I'll need another one! Just to make final checks you understand, and not to bathe in the Med, and ride across the hills!


JJ said...

Oh god, so exciting. That sounds so wonderful. I'm so glad you've found your way with it. I just bought myself a rather beautiful orange notebook for my eco tourist research trip, so your post came at a very good time to remind me of all the senses.


Fiona said...

50,000 words is great! Do you have a final word count in mind?
I've been given a dictaphone - not sure if I'll use it but will try.

Lane said...

I think you'll defiantely need another research trip - just to be sure:-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That is very VERY interesting. Really glad about the word count, too.

hesitant scribe said...

jj - I hope you get as much pleasure from your little orange notebook as I did from mine :)
fiona - I'm aiming for 100,000 so that I can cull 20,000 and not be devastated! I've never tried a dictaphone (hearing my voice on an ansaphone is bad enough, lol) but could be really useful.
lane - oh yes! absolutely - just to be completely certain...
zinnia - cheers me dears!