Still Researching, For a Good Reason

Two weeks have flown by since my last blog, but as you from the previous post, life’s been a whirlwind. Our sunny fall weather has officially become a drought, but as you’ll see from the photo, my hubby’s managed to find some beautiful fall leaves. While he’s been experimenting with photography, I’ve been focusing on editing, which is both calming and challenging.

A few days ago, I learned about an intriguing writing contest called the Unchartered Novel Excerpt contest. This contest was recommended by a writing colleague whose agent is the judge. You can submit anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words of your work in progress and the key is to choose something exciting to attract attention. It took some thinking as I have several big moments in this 122,000-word manuscript.

I wound up choosing two consecutive scenes that contain action, dialogue, and address the heart of the story. I’ve been working on this section a great deal and will be submitting the piece this week, I hope. If you’re interested in learning more about the contest, and I apologize for the late date, click HERE. They aren’t just looking for fantasy, but mysteries and horror as well. There’s also a good FAQ you can read on the home page for more information. I’ll do a little more research before I hit the submit button.

Research for my urban fantasy has been the other focus lately. Although I’ve read plenty of novels in this genre and books on Wicca and magic, I now find myself needing to read more on shamanism. One of the key characters in my fantasy is a shaman of mixed ethnic backgrounds, however, his shamanic training came from North American Indigenous cultures, and therein lies the problem.

After reading a number of articles about the need for sensitivity and the reluctance of publishers to touch anything even remotely Indigenous, particularly here in Canada, I’m reworking the character and focusing on Celtic shamanism, which is my ethnic background.

I found an amazing book on the topic that speaks to me on a level I hadn’t anticipated at all, but that’s something to reflect on later. At the moment, I’m looking at the issue from a writing/researching perspective and have compiled pages of notes. This particular character doesn’t have a lot of scenes, but the ones he does have are crucial and will necessitate some rewriting in the next draft.

The more I work on this book, the more I learn, and the more things need to be changed. Have you found that the longer you work on a project and the more research you do, the extra number of drafts you create? This whole process would be so much easier if I were writing a novella.

I was listening to the great novelist John Irving on CBC Radio this weekend. He’s 80 years old now and is about to release his latest novel. Wow! The interviewer asked him if he has another novel in the works, and he replied that he does, but it’ll be much shorter. He doesn’t have the time and energy for months of research anymore. I can totally relate to that!

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Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

12 thoughts on “Still Researching, For a Good Reason”

  1. Debra, I stand in awe at the scope of the work you’ve set for yourself. You’re in a constant state of learning while doing, which of course is the best of all possible worlds. But, it does take time and energy. Don’t forget to insert a little down time to at least savour what you’ve accomplished!

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  2. I also entered the Unchartered Novel Contest with my new young adult WIP. It’s a marvelous idea. And I can’t wait to chat with you about Celtic Shamanism. I’ve practiced for a few years and use Conway’s book too. You’ll find a shamanic journey in To Render a Raven that I took with Estrada and Dubh using a drum soundtrack. It works very well and allows you to go deep. Best Wishes.

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  3. Research can be time-consuming but rewarding. It’s like educating yourself without having to go back to school. Of course, the more you learn, the more you change your story! When I tell students how many times I rewrite each story they groan. They don’t want to know that.

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    1. Well, what I’ve learned is that many cultures have practiced shamanism for eons, not just Indigenous North American and Celtic cultures, but African, Russian, and so on. It’s quite fascinating.

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