If you're bored writing it, I'm bored reading itA Lesson by Mike Lamb
It's a book, not a term paper.
As you write, you may from time to time find that you need to research things for greater depth, detail, and believability in your story. But here's the thing...are you researching it because it fascinates you, or just because "it has to be there"? Because, guess what? Nothing has to be there unless you want it there. If you read a book where the author goes on and on about architecture in vivid detail and historical accuracy, it's probably because they themselves are deeply fascinated by architecture. If you describe something that interests you, you're much less likely to get bored and frustrated with it. And that shows in the writing. Likewise, if you take no personal interest in the facts or details you're describing, it will read as being very dry and bland.
But let's say you really need to include some large chunk of information that you personally find enormously dull. This is where secondary characters can come in handy. Let's say, for some bizarre reason, it is essential that the protagonist knows about the housepets of every American president. Since you will personally think that this information is either fascinating or pointless (or somewhere in between), there should be at least one character that agrees with you (hence, voicing not only your view on the matter but the view of many readers). So either the protagonist is explaining the timeline of presidential pets to someone who is clearly uninterested, or vice versa. This is one reason that so many books and movies have the token smartass character. Because they know that at least one jackass in the audience is making snotty remarks about everything going on in the story, and he/she wants to see a character that actually shares his/her viewpoint. And it allows the author to go into extreme detail about things without taking themselves too seriously and/or alienating the readers.
One of the interesting side effects of research is trivia. The nice thing about trivia is it makes people with no attention span feel smarter. It sifts through all the boring crap and finds the most obscure facts with the most bizarre details and condenses it into one or two sentences that you can easily remember and quote.
So let's say you found a comprehensive list of every American president and every pet they ever had. Now there's a really good chance most of that list is pretty boring, but there might be a few strange ones on the list worth paying attention to. What if, for example, FDR had a pet badger that had to be put to sleep after killing the neighbor's toddler? I think that might be pretty interesting...whereas something like "Nixon had a poodle" would not be very interesting. And no, I'm not going to actually look up presidential pets because I don't care and I'd rather just make up facts.
So do your research and figure out which parts are worth writing into the story and which bits are useless. I hope this has been at least marginally helpful...because I have completely lost interest in this lesson. I probably had some other examples, but...screw it. I basically just make these up as I go along anyway. They can't all be winners. Go look up Abraham Lincoln and tell me if he had any pets. Then write a little story about it. I'm going to sleep.
Added on October 6, 2010
Last Updated on October 11, 2010
AboutArtist, writer, and a drunken lunatic prophet. I am the author of Jack's Inferno, a dark comedy bizarro/horror novel about Hell, previously published through Wordplague (now defunct). I am also a pro..