Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cultivating Interesting Friendships

Research. Research. Research.

It's no secret how much of it I do. But sometimes there are things you can't find out by research alone. For example: Moriah, the MC in CALLARION AT NIGHT, has fairly substantial anger issues based off her mom disappearing and being "betrayed" by her ex-fiance. If I were doing research on my own, I could probably find several perfectly serviceable psychological disorders to give her as a result of said issues.

There's no guarantee, however, that I'd be able to effectively incorporate those disorders into the story. I have no training at all in psychology, and would probably get quite a bit wrong if I tried to replicate those disorders on my own.

Which is where my friendships with Michelle* and Alice come into play. Both of these ladies have extensive experience with psychological issues -- Michelle majored in psychology in college and Alice works in the field -- and both have graciously agreed to read what I have of the MS so far. My stated intention upon handing the 17 chapters to them was to find where the psychology doesn't make sense and to mark the text up so it does.

It's friendships like those, where you have access to a knowledge base more complete than anything easily found on the Internet, that make the research process go by so much smoother. Why would I bother researching PTSD when I can ask Michelle questions and she immediately comes back with a more detailed (and useful) answer than what I can possibly find?

My friends have experience with computers, law, cars, music, medicine, history (ancient and modern), politics, money, and a host of other topic areas. It's easier to call Mark, my best friend, for a quick computer question than to spend two hours searching. He gives me answers inside of five minutes. Who can beat that?

Therefore, to end this admittedly disjointed post, I propose that fostering these interesting (and diverse) friendships can enhance our abilities to write effective stories. Ones that our friends will enjoy seeing, knowing that they've helped us get there.

At least that's the plan.

* The names have been changed to protect ... well, none of the people mentioned are innocent, per se (they are friends with me after all) ... so probably because I'm not sure how comfortable they'd be with being named online in a public blog post.


L. T. Host said...

I know it's steampunk, but if they have horses or other animals you have any questions about, let me know. :)

Joshua McCune said...

Excellent points, and there's usually a certain colloquial verisimilitude that these friends can provide that's hard to extract through pure research.

Natalie said...

My brother is a lawyer. I use his expertise constantly. I totally take advantage of friends and family with skills I don't have.

Hey and I've been reading LEVIATHAN. Steampunk is AWESOME (as you well know)!

JAScribbles said...

Hmm - feel free to call on me for an answer to all things conference planning. Wow, thrilling. Be sure to work that into your storyline!


Matthew Delman said...

L.T. --

I'll be sure to take you up on that for the rewrite of SON OF MAGIC. There are all kinds of animals in that one.

Bane --

Yes, yes they can. Including answer random emails about punch card stress tolerances. ;)

Natalie --

My other half has a copy of LEVIATHAN that she won't let me read until she does. (I might attempt bribery to circumvent that, however.)

Jenna --

Hey, you never know. I might have a character that has to plan a huge event similar to a conference that would need your expertise.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Excellent point on using friends to your advantage. I'm just about to ask an English teacher friend to proof the dreaded synopsis.


Susan R. Mills said...

If you need to know about the psychotic condition caused by having to buy your 13-year-old son a necklace to give his girlfriend for their 6 month anniversary (GAG!), I might be of some help. Seriously, though, friendships are a wealth of knowledge. You're lucky you have some good ones.

Matthew Delman said...

Stephanie --

My high school and college career was speckled with friends giving their papers to me to proof. And then me handing them back dripping with proverbial red ink.

Susan --

LOL! Aren't you a good mom for making sure your son looks good. And isn't six months among 13-year-olds the equivalent of six years in adults? Or some random stuff like that (yes, I did just make that up).