Monday, July 18, 2011

Writing, Research, A Projection That Inspires

I took this photo Saturday night from my phone, trying to capture a moment that reminded me of my current work in progress, Rabbit Island. The film is China Seas, starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. I didn't see it, but it was projected against a white brick building in our community garden, just across the street from our apartment.

I have two characters with a passion for old film stars. One who wants to live her real life with the same emotional intensity and intrigue of certain Hollywood actresses. Another, who is so wrapped up in the glamour of these old films, she is unable to cope with reality.

Now that I am nearing the end of the first draft-- I feel like I've been saying this forever, but really, truly, this is the end. This week. I swear-- I find myself in the wonderful position of having to do research on a topic I am passionate about: movie musicals!

I will be reading biographies about two Hollywood film stars I am most interested in: Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland. And catching up on as many movie musicals as I can. First on deck: A Star Is Born.

I have not always been put in good research positions after working on a project. There was this whole camping situation once and then this guy who made beer for a living. Don't get me wrong, I like nature. I like beer. But I did not find the research as interesting as I had hoped.

But movie musicals? This is a Melissa dream come true.

Are you a research person? Writers, do your characters put you in awkward research positions?


  1. Sometimes it's only within the research process that we test our real passion for a project. Just this weekend I decided to shelve a story that I now realize i was bored with and kept tossing in random subplots to try to make it interesting. I'm moving on to a historic fiction piece, because the more I read about the event that's central, the more stoked I get. I can't wait to go bug the handweaver's guild nearby, and see if they'll let me come hang out in a studio too. No, I'm not scared to talk to strangers who have information I need. Weirdly enough, research passion kicks my shyness in the butt.

  2. Ooh, I love Audrey Hepburn :) That sure will be fun research. Best of luck!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  3. Sounds like fun research to me! I have researched lots of boring things, but every now and then, the research carries me off, and I forget why I was looking up the stuff in the first place. This may sound odd, but the invention of peanut butter was one of those. :)

  4. I LOVE musicals and would love a reason to research them! During writing my novel, I have had research all sorts of things. From blindness, subliminal messages, to fingerprinting.

    As someone said, the research can be interesting, but I get so involved that I sometimes forget that I'm supposed to be doing something with the things I find out!

    Well done for getting near the finish line of your first draft!

  5. Mmm. Fantastic that you have reached this place. When do we get a sneak preview??

    And in answer to your question ... yes, characters have a habit of making me research something. I even had to travel to Florida to swim with manatees ... and research meteors .... and fibre optics ... and this is for ages 8-10. But, if the background knowledge is not there then the writing does not ring true. I am not a natural researcher, but when needs must ...