A Conversation for Writing right with Dmitri - Re-Purposing Memory

memory, imagination and research

Post 1


Of course, memory is a great source of inspiration, and it can be aided by notebooks, photos and conversation with older relatives. (Though, these days, I am the older relative smiley - senior.)

So, you build on that with your imagination. (I have, for example, dreamt up reasons why my grandfather left Dublin at the age of 17.)

I suspect you have to add to all these a certain amount of research. How much research, I'm not sure. If I really wanted to write about my grandfather, I would have to do a lot of research into the society in Dublin in the 1890s.

However, it would be easy for me to think 'Suppose I set my story in modern England, I wouldn't need to do much research'. But would that be right? If one of my characters was, for example, a vet, wouldn't I need to know what it's like working as a vet? If I wanted to write about the protestors against fracking who are currently camped some way north of my house, wouldn't I want to go and talk to them?

We're lucky in that the traditional research materials of books and magazines kept in libraries, we've got the amazing resource of the internet, but I suspect a writer still needs to put some time and effort into research.

memory, imagination and research

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Post Editor

Well, that's true about the research. smiley - smiley Although I was really thinking about the way the research needs to be grounded in common sense and personal experience.

These days, I've been doing a LOT of research. I've been doing projects where I need to write about daily life in various ancient societies.

I can find a lot of material from archaeologists and historians. But to figure out what is happening to Akku, the ten-year-old boy who lives in Uruk in the 3rd millennium BCE, I also draw on my own memories. That way, I get some genuine experience in there.

True, I never woke up to find three priests in fish costumes standing over my bed, chanting to the water god. However, I've had a fever. smiley - whistle

memory, imagination and research

Post 3


I admit to remembering the 1960s, but the 3rd century BCE? You can't be that old. smiley - run

memory, imagination and research

Post 4

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Post Editor

smiley - snork

You'd be surprised. smiley - rofl

But seriously, when I did Athens, I drew on my sense memories of those streets, ruins, etc. And the food. smiley - drool I think writers need a sort of method acting for processing experience. Otherwise, it's easily just a recital of facts.

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