When does research become a burden?
You’ve got this great idea for a novel, but, first, you need to do “a little” research. You go to the library and check out three or four great reference books. You know, the kind that can double as door stops. You scour the internet and download a ton of articles on your subject. You copy and paste dozens of quotes and tidbits.
At last you’re ready to start your research. As you plow through those massive tomes and cutting edge papers the minutia begins to pile up. You find that your detective hero can’t get the DNA test back in 24 hours (it takes about two weeks for most DNA tests to come back from the lab) and that upsets the timeline of your plot. You learn that blood coagulates pretty quickly so your antagonist couldn’t return to the crime scene two days later, get blood on his shoes, and leave a blood trail down the street. Then you learn that your detective hero can’t be fired by his captain on the spot. It takes quite a bit of administrative gymnastics to fire someone working in any government job, be it local, state, or federal. Then you find...
Hey! Time out!
Research is essential for any good genre novel but don’t let it get in the way of a good story. Use the information wisely. Don’t stress over those tiny facts, especially if they are of little consequence to the overall plot. Here are some morsels I’ve learned over the years that might help you in your research: