Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Goth, Anyone?

I'm no good at research. Well, it's not that I'm not good at it, it's that I loathe it with every fiber of my being. I actually start to shake if I think the word "research." *shudders* I've typed it twice now, and I'm starting to break out in hives.

I'll do the r-word if I have to, don't get me wrong. I mean, what kind of writer would I be if I didn't verify my facts? I can nary write about NYC if I've never been there (which I haven't) and don't know a single thing about it.

So sometimes research is a necessary evil. But I've come to something that I've actually enjoyed learning about. Are you ready for this?

The Goth subculture. Those are Wikipedia's words.

See, I'm sort of fascinated by the whole Goth scene. Not really the white-painted faces and weird piercings (although the piercings are kinda cool, just not for me. I have a little, okay huge, phobia of needles and all things pain-related). But the wicked spiked hair, the dark black dyed look, that kind of thing.

My DH says it's because I'm obsessed with vampires. Like all vampires are Goths or something. Which, by the way, I'm obsessed with neither. I just find other people fascinating. I like to sit back and watch what they do and say and more importantly, why they do and say what they do. It makes for interesting character-building inside my own head.

Sadly, I am not well-acquainted with any people who are involved in the Goth subculture. In fact, I don't know a single person who is. Thus, my reliance on the interwebs. And believe me, you can find a lot on there.

So I found out that Gothism (my word) emerged as a sort of "post-punk" era in the United Kingdom. I like punks, too. Anyway, I discovered that not all research is bad. I actually liked learning more about the whole Goth culture.

And it was important research, because I'm going to attempt to write a glam-Goth paranormal/ghost story. It's something I've been stewing over since last summer. And Adam Lambert's glam-Goth look on American Idol has only been fanning the flames of my inner gotta-write-Goth desire.

Anyway, this post has been sort of rambling. But I guess I was wondering how you all research. Do you stick to what you know? Or are you like me, and have to do a little bit of searching to find out more in order to make your novels authentic? Do you like the research aspect of writing? Or do your cells quiver at the thought? What are you researching right now?


Wiggy said...

You'd never know it but I was verging on the side of Goth in middle school. My best friend got way into it and it turned out pretty bad for her so I have never regretted parting ways with that little goth infatuation. But it is so alluring! And so beautiful! Love this post. Thanks, Elana!

Wiggy said...

You'd never know it but I was verging on the side of Goth in middle school. My best friend got way into it and it turned out pretty bad for her so I have never regretted parting ways with that little goth infatuation. But it is so alluring! And so beautiful! Love this post. Thanks, Elana!

TereLiz said...

Goths vs vampire kids, lol! I know not everyone likes South Park, but they had a hilarious episode about that ending in a Hot Topic in flames (that being the source of the vampires, of course)

Back on topic, I have an MA in art history, so whether or not I like researching, I'm good at it. I actually love researching when it's on a topic of my own choosing.

My second "practice novel" took place in a different country every 10K words, and I had only ever been to a few of them, so I had to look at a lot of online travel logs for the kinds of details to use to set the scene. It was hard, but I learned a lot about lots of cities I'd never been to, and many of the things I learned became part of the plot.

Did you know that most of Cairo's cemeteries house somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million homeless? They live in the "houses" built within these cities of the dead.

One of the most rewarding aspects of researching, especially another culture, is the new POV it gives you on your own life. I'm glad I don't live with half a million Cairenes in a cemetery.

Good luck with your Goth-stalking, Elana!

M. Dunham said...

It depends on the type of research that I'm doing. Since my degree is in religious studies (was going into archaeology but changed my mind), I love researching old cultures, but I become frustrated when I can't find historically detailed, accurate information. Of course, now I have access to the library system again, so it's easier, but sifting to find what I need is the biggest pain.

I don't tend to research anything that I don't strictly need, and I feel that if the topic bores me, it'll bore my readers, so I avoid them.

So... I'm 50/50. It really depends on my moods. I'm very Scorpio.

Lisa and Laura said...

We avoid research like the plague. Call it writing what you know or call it sheer laziness. I haven't decided which just yet.

Sandra said...

Funny you should post this. I need to get my hero and his friends from Phoenix to Chicago -- in 1980. So I need to research airfares and train schedules from that year so I can figure out how much it costs and how much money they need. Google isn't helping much, but I stumbled on a newspaper archive that might be helpful.

I tend to research just what I need to know at a specific moment, but I may need to dig a little deeper to get details to make the setting authentic.

Janyece said...

I am such a geek. I love resear... uh, the "r" word I had a character break her arm in the first chapter of my first novel and I had to go look up what needed to be done for it to heal. I'm a sucker for research. I love history. I love learning. I do get lazy sometimes and if I need to research something to move ahead, it might take a couple of weeks... There are a few things I don't want to/won't research though... Telling would be tmi. ;)

Lady Glamis said...

I rarely stick to what I know, although I usually start there. Researching is half the fun of writing for me!

Good luck with your research and have fun! Just don't... go goth or anything. :)

Kat Harris said...

Hey! I was going to post on research. I'm kind of glad you beat me to it, though.

I get excited about research. I don't think about it in terms of just one more thing to do. I always view research from a character's perspective.

I generally write a rough draft of a story first, and then go back to research.

It's fun to see how much I got right, and how much was just an incredible stretch of the imagination.

It also helps me look at these places, events, scenarios thorugh the eyes of my characters. That takes a little of the humdrum out of it.

Windsong said...

Researching is not my favorite thing to do, until I stumble on something really interesting. Then it's hard to stop. I think I've had to at least do some research for every book I've written--at least the ones that don't deserve to be eaten by dust bunnies!

Right now, I'm researching the ocean. :D

Anonymous said...

I love to do research. Currently, I'm trying to learn about teen Muslim experiences (she's not a main character but I want to get things right.

My books are usually set in Jersey.


christinefonseca said...

You already know that I actually like research. And with my day job, YA subcultures comes very naturally to me. That being said, I have spent a lot of time researching mythology of late due to some backstory elements I needed for a WIP. I've also been researching the whole fallen angel - gone goth - wicked - amazingly redemptive - character thing for my next major project I'd like to start this summer.

Great post!

ElanaJ said...

Wow, so many great researchers. And I'm glad to see some people loathe it like I do. Thanks guys!

Carolyn Kaufman said...

*giggle* Gothism
I work with several goths.
I have also recently been thrust into Second Life. Bet you could find some goths to help you research there!

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