When I was in college, I developed the talent that many have: come to a conclusion, then find research to support it. With the powers of the internet, you can find “proof” of virtually anything. I did some exhaustive studying like that for my first series of books (then found out, through some documentaries about the Mayans that Jamie was watching, that my ideas weren’t that far off).
But researching for a book–or a research paper, or anything credible–should be more open-ended. You seek information and dissect that information to reach the meat of your story or hypothesis. I feel strongly about this now, although in college I just wanted a well-written paper to get a good grade. One of my author friends, M.H. Boroson, is exceptionally good at researching the lifeblood of his stories. I think he reads 200 pages for every page written.
That might be excessive, but it did make me feel a bit behind. I’m writing a mystery series and haven’t read any mystery novels lately. I’m thinking I want to pick up Jamie Freveletti’s Running From the Devil. It has won lots of acclaim and she’s a badass in real life, so hopefully her protagonist is also a badass.
I did a little searching of Good Reads and found lots of male posters who seemed to think that “women are less likely to have nothing to lose” and “less likely to have a network of thugs and police” and thus “are less likely to be ass-kicking detectives.”
For Exhibit A, I present Detective Kate Beckett from Castle. A show that I had to watch all of, just for research purposes. And because Beckett is awesome.
Before I get on a soapbox, I want to close with the idea that research in/of/within science fiction and fantasy is not just a fancy way of saying “read more books.” I think we might even have to do an AnomalyCon Presents panel on the subject, perhaps in the August edition.