The Journey to Research

I hate research.

There, I said it.

I even hate research when I’m researching a topic I’m really interested in, like film, writing or “Doctor Who” star David Tennant.

Unfortunately, research is a crucial part of writing. I’m learning that even when you are writing a science fiction novel that takes place in an alternate universe in the future that you still have to do research. And that kind of sucks, because research is boring.

For instance, in my current story, I’m writing about an unexplainable phenomenon that no one really understands or probably even cares about. One of my characters is using the neurons on the cerebral cortex of the brain to study this unexplainable phenomenon. I don’t even know if you can use the neurons on the cerebral cortex of the brain to study anything that isn’t tangible, which my phenomenon is not. Furthermore, I’m not even sure if science recognizes this phenomenon as something that could ever be studied with any technology that has been, is, or ever might be invented. That’s fine, though, because it is science fiction. In my story, you can study this phenomenon by tracing the activity on the cerebral cortex of the brain. That is not why I had to research.

I had to research because I wasn’t even sure if there were such things as neurons on the cerebral cortex of the brain. There are, in case you’re interested, but I majored in English, not science.

I’ve realized a problem that I didn’t expect to encounter when writing fiction. Even if my book’s universe is not Earth, or this universe, or this dimension, or whatever, anything I think I might want to invent to put in the story has to be based on something that human, Earth people will be able to comprehend. Otherwise, people will feel like they’re watching Primer when they read my book and walk away with no idea what just happened and no desire to even try to figure it out. So, what I have to do is take scientific fact and mesh it with my invented science fictional elements. Therefore … research.

Which I hate.

Still, I’m on this journey, for better or for worse, which means that occasionally I’ll be required to look up whatever it is that science knows about the brain. I’ve made my choice, and I suppose that research is a very small price to pay on this journey.

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