Fiction Requires Research

If you’re a writer, this fact stands out as a DUH. My novel (I LOVE TYPING THAT PHRASE) is a look at parenting techniques from the view of the child. I’m pulling inspiration and understanding from multiple sources, my personal experience of being a child raised by parents, the experiences of my friends, and my parents input. All I have to ask is “What do you think about your parent’s child rearing techniques?” and BAAAM! I’ve got new anecdotes, character models, and ideas for conflict flying around my head faster than my fingers can type. I’ve got enough to fill a book (hurr hur hur).

(What techniques did your parents use? What did you love that they did? What did you hate?)

BUT! It’s not enough. I need to approach this project from multiple directions, so that my well of knowledge can be varied enough that my characters don’t become my brothers, cousins, and (most importantly) avoid getting too close to my own parents. I know enough about my extended family that my parents don’t need me handing out a novel full of ammunition.

Daughters of The Grasslands by Mary Woster Haug

For my research, I’ve turned to some interesting sources. I’m currently reading Daughters of the Grasslands A Memoir by Mary Woster Haug. It explores Haug’s relationship with her own mother, winding the tales of her childhood around her more recent exploration into South Korea on a professor exchange, going to teach at Chungnam National University. Korea is a massive change from Haug’s childhood on the open plains of South Dakota, raised by her Irish mother and quiet, farmer father. I was most interested by the way Haug incorporates the voice of her mother that follows her throughout her life, even after her mother has passed. It is an aspect that I am attempting to portray, as well, the way Mom’s voice cuts in with poignant advice or an exclamation.

Haug uses italics for the mother’s words, a tactic that I had started using even before picking up the memoir, but she also gives snapshots of memories, stepping into the past for a pages or a chapter, in order to give context to the disembodied voice. I think this is a way I can develop my own character’s relationship with her parents. Maybe as her Mom and Dad’s advice drifts in and out, so do her memories, breaking up the current timeline so that, by the end, the reader fully understands what the characters are gaining and losing.

I’m also looking into parenting books, which should be hysterical, and interviewing those in my community.

That all said, I’ve reached the 3,500 word count. Much lower than what’d I’d been hoping for by now, but still farther along than I absolutely need to be in my timeline. My new plan is to have 8,000 words done by the end of October, and then jump into Nanowrimo to get the next several thousand out. I’ve signed up to be apart of the Nanowrimo group at my University, meeting once a week or an hour (or more) to get my writing groove going. Some of my classmates are participating as well, so it should be a great way to stay motivated and focused.


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