Seven Ways to Rise Above Your Research By Emma Lindley
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?
You can follow my blog at www.emmalindley.net/blog, contact me on the MediaParents site or tweet me @emlin32 on Twitter.
I am an award-winning film and TV director, writer and producer with fifteen years experience. My UK director credits include the popular ITV children’s comedy series, ‘My Parents are Aliens’ (RTS nomination), ITV teen drama ’24Seven’ (Prix Jeunesse nomination) and BBC factual series ‘My Life’ and ‘Who are We?’
My US producer/director credits include ‘Anatomy of a Closet’ a one hour fashion doc, and factual entertainment series ‘In Search of Food’ for Ovation TV, both nominated for CableFAX awards. I have written a commissioned feature script for Met Film, ‘The Misfit Club’, and am currently writing my second feature, a detective story set in Arizona.