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Research Or Copy-Paste? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Research Or Copy-Paste?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
jaus tail
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Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby jaus tail » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:58 pm

What is the difference between research and copy-paste? You're writing a book about 'guy comes from village to city, works hard, makes it big, etc etc, marries girl, girl leaves him at altar for best friend, man goes violent and kills best friend, then goes to kill girl and turns out to be a serial killer, etc etc'

Now when a writer actually writes this story and starts editing he's research on,
Different villages
Village lifestyles, clothing, nuances, manners, body language
Physiques of different men to describe the characters' bodies, faces.
Different dresses for women.
Problems in village/why do people migrate to City?
Firms in City.
Opportunities in City.
Why is there a rift between the urban and rural public?
Why do rich people act snobbish? etc etc

Ofcourse the writer would insert his own imagination in the novel, but most of the points would be researched. Like if he wants to describe how the man reacts after he gets his job, he'll do boody language at happiness, how do people react when excited? If not from net his sentences would be inspired from some other novel he would've read which involved someone being ecstatic.

So if everything is researched then what is the writer's job?
Have a nice day

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Anya Kylash
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby Anya Kylash » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:19 am

Research is just a way to say: You're getting smarter. The smarter a writer, the better.
Finished:
Race Against Fate -101k words
Loyalties Lost -121k words
Forgotten -100k words
Friends and Foes -113k words

Unfinished:
Alone - 32k words

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rosebud
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby rosebud » Tue Dec 18, 2012 2:29 am

I agree with Anya here. But also I'd like to add that the more you learn from your research the more meat you can apply to the bare bones of your story. Make sense? It does show in your writing.

jaus tail
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby jaus tail » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:07 am

I am not denying the importance of research. It does add large chunks of meat to the story. A lightening which would be described as a deadly serpent that bit the innocent child, after researching becomes 100000 Volts of electricity that killed the child before he knew what struck him.

But how is writing different from copy-paste? Like you do research on all the aspects of your story and then paste it in your novel. Ofcourse choosing from the research is tiring since most of the researched pages would be shredded.

Like I said in the example earlier, you research on body language, different shapes of eyes, what eye colour people of so and so region have, how does an indigenous' accent sound like? Differnt face structures? What do people wear at interviews? If you're writing an interview scene, you'd research on,
Common Interview Questions?
How to give/take an interview?
Company polices?
Formal wears?
How to walk?
Then you'd add your sarcasm if you want to make it funny, or if you want to make it threatening, make the interviewer the candidate's step-father, if you're making it romantic, make the canditate secretly hear the future boss' phone conversation wherein he's begging his wife against divorce, or speaking to his lawyer about alimoney. You want to make it sci-fi, add some aliens from somewhere.

But isnt' research just copy-paste. It is important but isn't it plagiarism?

I read a quote once, copy from one it's plagiarism, copy from many and it's research.
Have a nice day

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rosebud
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby rosebud » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:00 am

To copy and paste something from your research and paste that bit of writing into your story would be plagiarism because you're taking something that has been published by another author and transferred to your story.

To rewrite that bit of information into your own words or use it as a quote and list it in your bibliography would be acceptable as far as I know. You may need to get permission from the publisher to use it though, depending on the source.

Is your research in public domain or something recent? Not sure if that matters, just the hoops you have to jump through to include it in your novel.

Does this answer your question?

jaus tail
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby jaus tail » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:12 am

Have a nice day

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shadowwalker
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:01 am

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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louiseh87
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby louiseh87 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:17 am

The writer should know how to use that research. Just like an academic essay selects which bits to use for the argument, a writer needs to distil what they have learnt and only use what they really need to illustrate the story. What you're found out needs to be put into the eyes of your character, instead of the eyes of whoever wrote the article you've used for your research. If you're just copy and pasting, the story will be very dry.
Louise :)

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- where I extend talking to myself to the internet sphere

"Over the Waves", Strange Horizons (13 August 2012)

jaus tail
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby jaus tail » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:22 am

So I guess writing is indeed a form a science. You first write the story in your own language, then do the research and then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite.
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shadowwalker
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Re: Research Or Copy-Paste?

Postby shadowwalker » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:11 am

Or do the research as you write, which is what I do. I'd hate to finish the story only to find out that I've made a huge mistake in fact early on. :o
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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