We have Bud Humble as our guest speaker for Saturday Night Write on March 16, 2019. So I thought I’d invite him to stop by the blog. He will be discussing The Benefits of Hands-On Research.
So here’s what I asked Bud:
Thank you for chatting with me today!
It’s my pleasure. I really appreciate you inviting me to participate in your blog.
I know you’ve done a lot with Steampunk November. How has working with all of this hands-on research affected our own writing?
The obvious answer is that I’m able to convey a more immersive experience for my readers. Help them feel the weight of the sword in their hands or hear the snap as the arrow is released from the bow. And while that’s very true, instead of going there, I’m gonna go a little farther afield with my real answer.
Writing is about people. They permeate our stories and sometimes, if we’re lucky, they even read said stories. Contrarily, writing is a very solitary thing, so it’s important to get out and re-connect. Hands-on research allows you fresh opportunities to do just that. It’s an excuse to meet people you otherwise would never have run across, to learn something new, and to gain a fresh perspective that might completely turn your story in a new direction!
Are there any specific books you’ve read where the well-researched details really help you to stay in the story?
Absolutely! My good friend Tex Thompson did tons of research on her western fantasy Children of the Drought series, and it shows. She absolutely nailed the details on the clothing, weapons, and the time period in general. More than that, she put special emphasis on getting every detail of her native Americans exactly right. It pulls the reader in so they live the scenes with the characters.
Another example is Nathan Lowell and his Tales From The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper books. Nathan lived on ships and his experiences really comes through in his writing. In this example, I’m loosely connecting life experience with research experience, but I think there’s an argument to be made that knowing your subject is knowing your subject, no matter how you get that knowledge.
How do you recommend writers approach hands on research safely?
Great question! For research that’s inherently dangerous – like working with weapons – word of mouth and the Internet are good places to start. If a person or shop has a good reputation, then that’s probably an excellent starting point. Say for example that you’re wanting to research WWII pistols and revolvers. A friend tells you that the gun store just outside of town has some helpful people. A check of the Internet gives you mixed reviews. The good reviews confirm that these people know their stuff. Further checking the bad reviews reveals that the owner is gruff. Now you’ve got a decision to make. For me, gruff is an interesting character trait and one I’ll put up with to get information I need. But, it’s about you and how far you’re willing to stretch your extrovert wings.
Still following that example, your local law enforcement center could be a great place to learn firearm basics. Most towns have Community Outreach officers who’d love to talk to you.
All that said, the very best way to get hands-on research is to come out to Writers in the Field! We’ll have loads of experts on a wide variety of topics all in a single venue. It’s an extra-large slice of research heaven!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Jump in with a shameless promotion or three, you ask? Why I’d love to!
I’ll start with a quick shout out for WORDfest (https://www.wordwriters.org), which is happening at the TCC NE campus. This year, we’re doing something special: WORDfield. It’s a sort of preview of the 2019 Writers in the Field and part apology for the monsoons of 2018. The WORDfest portion happens on Saturday, March 23rd. The WORDfield portion takes place the following day. We’ll have loads of great speakers, panels, and experts. These are free events, but if you want a little something extra, a few BFF packages are available for only $10.
In October, we’ll be presenting Writers in the Field (https://www.writersinthefield.com) near Mansfield, Tx. This is the full hands-on, gloves off, all-you-can-learn extravaganza! Dance, pick locks, check the heft of different swords, shoot arrows, and much, much more. This year, we’re adding a Sci-fi track that’s gonna be amazing!
For November, there’s the tour-de-force that is Steampunk November (http://www.steampunknovember.com/). Researching fantasy can be tough, but if Steampunk, music, or entertainment appeals to you, this is the place for you! With multiple stages, there’s always something happening and it’s gonna be freakin’ amazing!
Amber, thanks so much for having me! It’s been a blast!
BIO: William “Bud” Humble, is a native Texan who’s been writing for over 25 years. Though he’s tried other things, his love of speculative fiction keeps drawing him back. His desire to help others achieve their literary dreams has led to him becoming the W.O.R.D. Director of Operations, a co-founder of Writers in the Field, and this year, he’s also the driving force behind the August 3 WORDfest SW in Burleson.