26 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Rabbit Holes

  1. That’s an interesting question, Terry. My answer: It could be anything, but is usually just some interesting and often-unrelated factoid.

    Sometimes I just follow it. Some rabbit holes have more than one way in/out!

    Have a great weekend, Terry.

  2. Get out? (calling out from deep within the hole)

    LOL! Unfortunately, the fascination with learning new things makes it hard to find my way out of the hole. I write historical primarily, & I LOVE the research phase. Virtually every time I research, I come up with a new story idea. Even writing mystery, I get so fascinated learning about things I didn’t know before—law enforcement procedures, etc., that I’m again in the hole.

    I’ll be interested to read how other people get out of that hole. Honestly, the only thing that helps get me out of the rabbit hole is when I run up against a hard stop of resources. For example, you’ve exhausted all the free resources you have access to and what you need is to afford a book or resource, or perhaps you need to take a trip to some locale or something that you can’t immediately afford to do.

    When I run into those walls, that’s when I have to stop and say “Okay, well I’m just going to have to proceed with the story based on what I’ve got. And if I have to make revisions later as I learn new information, so be it.”

    The other rabbit hole is some of the time, I literally have so many different ways the story can go that I can’t decide. At that point I get disgusted with myself for being wishy-washy and proceed writing the story a certain way, keeping notes of the other options in case I change my mind later.

    • It IS easy to wander around uncharted territory, isn’t it? It’s important to remember if you want to put a bear in your story, all you need to know is whether or not bears live in that setting, at that time of year, not their entire life history.

  3. Ugh, having a scientist protagonist. I feel like I have to take a college course before I can write the character! I get out by buckling down and going through. The trick is to create a character who works in a field I find fascinating so that the research is fun and not drudgery. I just have to be realistic and keep my eye on the clock.

    • I’m at that phase in my new book, Priscilla. I need a job for my heroine, and I know the issues it had to create for her (she’s just quit when the story opens), but it’s finding something that fits my (and her) needs that won’t require I learn an entire new skill set. Finding good experts who are willing to talk helps a lot!

  4. Interesting question, Terry. My rabbit hole explorations usually begin with research for background on a character (foreign country), or for setting (fantasy biological system or information review). Getting out isn’t usually a problem for me. I’m eager to get back to the writing.

    • A man with true focus. Good for you, Steve. My son used to complain bitterly about spelling homework when he was in the 2nd grade. I asked why looking up words and writing definitions was so hard. He said, “because there are so many other interesting words when I’m looking for the one I need.”

  5. Not doing enough revisions as I go. It sometimes feels I get to certain point and I buried myself deep. Stepping back a few days and doing something else while edit get’s me back on track.

  6. Great question, Terry. My rabbit holes right now tend to be outlines and revision. What gets me out of them–a deadline, not too hard, not too soft, sort of the writer’s Goldilocks zone 🙂

  7. Curiosity. I researched recently what would happen if the earth suddenly stopped spinning. Instantaneous 1,000 mph winds, ocean waves 100 miles high, flattening of every structure on the planet, total extinction of life on earth-except at the poles.

    That research became my 12 year old character’s contribution to a family dinner-table conversation, which served to push the scene forward to its climax.

    Love stuff like that. 🙂

  8. I love learning and have more useless trivia in my head than I’ll ever use. But can I remember to change the filter in the air conditioner? Nope. But I can tell you that as of January 2020, I can no longer get the hydro-chlorofluorocarbon I’ll need when the freon leaks out…

    • Information storage is a whole different game. Sometimes I think my brain belongs on a hoarder site. But it’s gotten harder and harder to find the stuff buried in there these days.
      Hubster’s in charge of major maintenance, and he writes everything on his calendar, so at least I don’t have to clutter my brain with those.

  9. Often it happens when I’m stuck. It becomes a source of procrastination, and then if what I find is interesting, I keep going. At some point, I have to accept that I have what I need, or I need something completely different and refocus.

    • Drawing the line between interesting and need is the writer’s challenge. So if defining that point at which you’ve found it. Thanks for dropping by, Karla.

  10. Getting out of writing and book research rabbit holes before it gets too dark and scary or a minotaur gets me is one of my superpowers, probably gained from my years in academia and research. I know when to claw my way out.

    But research outside of my books, that’s a whole other story. When I want or need to research something, I go down that hole and make it bigger by digging sideways, forward, and around like a demented groundhog. Research rabbits respect and fear me. I don’t stop until I know the subject and can write or talk about it comfortably.

    In the late Nineties before anyone had researched this pioneer subject as a whole/hole, I spent over six months research on the future of libraries and ebooks for a 4-hour one-person seminar to the state head librarians society. I walked into a group who feared the end of their beloved libraries and finished to a standing ovation because they saw the future and it was bright. One of my finest research-obsessed moments. Ask me about the paranormal. Years of that. One of my small publishers decides that he owns our text-to-speech rights despite what our contracts say, I spend five full days of obsessive research on contract law, copyright, and the connection between text-to-speech and audio rights. I shut that publisher’s rights grab down completely. Sadly, Amazon stomped all over those rights and pretty well wore down author groups and big publishing on that despite them winning successful lawsuits about the subject. Copyright and book piracy. Ongoing research for years.

    The short point of this story, you can take the groundhog out of academia, but you can’t her obsession with learning stuff out of the groundhog.

    • I’m exhausted just reading this post, Marilynn. I’m not a fan of in-depth research, not since I got out of teaching so many years ago. I’ll bet you’d have a field day with “Audiblegate.”
      I love learning stuff, but I’m more of a surface feeder.

  11. I absolutely LOVE historical research more than anything else. My rabbit holes are legion! But those rabbit holes have provided a bunch of really useful items such as:
    The history and legend of Bi Luo tea in China
    How to build a suitcase nuke
    The Tank Works in Ohio, where they make military tanks
    Eating habits of Zoroastrians in Persia/Iran
    and many many more…all of which have been used in novels I might add. 😉

    • Thank, Basil –
      Having them become useful almost contradicts the term “rabbit hole”. Turns them into legitimate searches. I’m intrigued by the eating habits of Zoroastrians.

  12. It pays to consider carefully what to research and how much. Do you really need a wombat in your story? I tend to always do the same amount of research: too much. I did so much reading for my WWII movie, I couldn’t get it all in, so I adapted it to a novel. With appendices. For my Western screenplay, I learned a lot more about horses than I ever dreamt of. Did you know that horses are not at all like motorcycles? (If they were, I could start one. if it were a WWII motorcycle.)

    • Sounds like you found quite the rabbit warren. When at all possible, I turn to experts with my specific questions, and then can take what they provide and turn it into prose. It might not be quite as much fun, but it does keep me out of those rabbit holes.

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