I’d Research That

Wooden figure model reading a book while sitting in the bookshelf

Doing Research by viewoftheworld http://www.flickr.com/photos/view/142745616/ / CC BY 2.0

I’m annoyed. I’ve had to sit on this post for a little bit so my seething stops…or slows.

“You’ll just have to research that.” This is a little gem I’ve gotten of at writer’s group and it irks me.

The first time I got the comment, it was regarding a story that involved a will. My main character was reading one page of a will, not the whole thing, and this really bothered Commenter. He informed me that wills were multiple pages and included signatures and dates, and that I really needed to research wills. Signatures on a will? Imagine my surprise that a legal document would require a freakin’ signature…well I ran right out to research, oh wait, I already had prior to writing the piece. In fact, I’d also read several wills.

The fact that the main character only had one page of the will was significant to my story, but not that particular scene…its importance would come later. Part of me was glad that Commenter had picked up on that, but really, assuming that I knew nothing about wills or what I was writing about was insulting.

Another time I heard those cursed words was in regards to the disease a character had. Granted, the disease isn’t well-known, so I couldn’t expect the group to know symptoms were A, B and C, but to tell me that I “should really research that disease” was, again, insulting. Yes, I randomly give characters rare diseases that I know nothing about and assign them symptoms that aren’t connected. When I was 10? Maybe. What budding author didn’t give a character some exotic or unexplained disease after *spoiler alert* Beth dies in Little Women. But now? As a grown adult writer? Please.

A better comment? “Can you find a way to let the reader know about symptoms A, B and C?” or “I’m not familiar with Acme Syndrome. You need to find a way to educate the reader about it.”

I suppose what really irks me is that what I actually hear is: you don’t care about your writing.

No, I don’t go on sabbatical for six months to immerse myself in the legal field or disease control, but I do educate myself. I care enough about my writing, my story and my characters to invest some time in research. Did I miss details? Yeah. Could I invest more time? Sure. However, I care enough to not haphazardly toss words on a page before giving it someone else to read.

Several group members have mentioned how great the group is for deadlines and how they were writing furiously the night before. Perhaps I’m just mad that they don’t invest the same amount of time that I do.

Or maybe I’m just pissed that I wasn’t clear enough in my writing to begin with. *sigh*

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