Research - a great excuse to be nosy, by Cynthia Reese

Maybe it's the reporter in me. Or maybe I'm just nosy.

But my favorite part of writing is the research. I really like sitting down with people and talking with them, and finding out all about a particular part of their lives. Everybody has a story, and each of those stories is so interesting.

Plus, I really, really like to get things right. Nothing bugs me more when I'm reading a book then when I see an error that could've easily been avoided if the writer had simply looked it up on Google. 

Or when someone is writing about a person in a different part of the country, and the writer uses her own perspective. A "for instance" that sticks in my head: I once read an otherwise pretty good book about a midwestern girl who was relocated to the South in the 60s. Her first breakfast? Not grits. Oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal. 

Honestly I don't know of any self-respecting Southern cook that would have served up a steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast in 1965. The question would have been, "Honey-child, you want fried eggs or scrambled with your grits? Sausage or bacon or maybe some fried ham?" Grits were the default answer to what was for breakfast south of the Mason-Dixon Line up until the 80s. 

I realized how hard it is to write from a different perspective when I made the mistake of writing a book with the heroine from the Pacific Northwest. Lucky for me, I had a critique partner who was from the Pacific Northwest, and she kept me straight on all of the many attitudes and characteristics that I had wrong. We Southerners are a strange tribe. 

I have started on the third book in the Georgia Monroes series, and already I'm finding many reasons not to put pen to paper, but to run my mouth. There is always another question that needs to be asked. There's always something else that I need to go see for myself. And even so, even with all the care I put into it, I know that I'm not going to get everything right. But it won't be for lack of trying. 


  1. Cynthia, glad you're at least feeling better. It's funny, but my blog for later this month is going to be about research, too. It will be interesting to see how we differ. Love to get different authors info on their writing process. Wear green today!

  2. Cynthia, I enjoy research as well. Maybe a little too much as sometimes I feel like it takes up an awful lot of my time. But I'm always of the mind that information can always be useful!

  3. Cynthia - you sound so much better! I like research, too. Always a good reason to take someone to lunch and write it off. And you learn the darndest things that become useful in a hundred little ways later. I'll swap you Pacific Northwest detail if you'll provide me with southern authenticity. Good wishes for the current book - and your continued good health. How's the brother-in-law?

  4. I love research, too. As for grits, this Mississippi girl rarely ate them until she was grown. lol But if you go into a restaurant in the South, grits will come with almost every breakfast.

    When a writer gets something wrong, especially something that can be easily found on the Internet, it destroys the reader's confidence in that writer. I remember having a heroine smell cordite after a gun was fired and the book wasn't historical. Thankfully a crit partner informed me cordite hadn't been used in gunpowder since the 40s. :-)

  5. Cynthia, I love researching topics. So much that I can get lost in it and lose writing time LOL! And now, having moved to VA from TX, you're making me want some grits :).


Post a Comment