by Cait Collins
I believe in doing my research when writing a story. In fact, I drop a bundle in Barnes and Noble with nearly every manuscript. In my current work 3×3, my hero is a gemologist and jewelry designer. So naturally I can’t have him facet a gemstone that is normally cut and set as cabochons. Nor can he purchase a green colored gem that is not found in green. Of course, I enhance my knowledge by studying cutting, settings, wax carvings, gems and their localities. But do we reach a point in research where too much knowledge detracts from the story?
For example, would the reader be more satisfied with the description of the finished product or does he want the step-by step process from the design to the showroom? Let’s face it, if I began describing the time spent either at a drawing board or computer painfully creating the drawing, then the wax carving, cutting, faceting, and polishing the stones, a reader would put the book down and wonder if he could get his money back. In fact, too much knowledge leaves little to the imagination. I would rather visualize the design than plough through its creation.
At times too much knowledge can lead to over-thinking which can lead to characters without emotions or with exaggerated emotions. They are no longer real. And the reader cannot relate to them. Without a relationship between the reader and the characters, there is no story.
Using our knowledge of a subject and applying our research is akin to Goldilocks and the three bears. Papa bear’s soup was too hot and his bed was too hard. Mama bear’s soup was too cold and her bed was too soft. Baby bear’s soup and bed were just right. Yes, knowledge adds to a work, but we must be careful to keep these details “just right”. Not too much or too little, but that fine mix that keeps the story on track and adds flavor to the work.