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  • Writer's pictureBeth Burke

You did how much research?

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

I get asked a lot about the amount and type of research I do before I start writing. This is a fairly complicated question to answer. The truth is that like the relationships I write about every story is different and has its' own unique dynamic. If it is a subject I already know well, like sharks for Uncaged it maybe a simple be fact checking as I go through the story to make sure certain actual facts are correct and reaching out to a few researchers to see what types of methods they use.

When it is a subject that I know little to nothing about, which was the case when I first started the Blackwell series I did a tremendous about of research and read everything from other stories to research articles on the subject. I am pretty sure my search history was a very interesting read at the time. On this particular topic since the Blackwell series is going to continue and has been well received by reviewers. I continue the research process. I use all the information I can find from articles and stories I can read to talking to people within the community in order to get their perspective on the subject.

From interviews and conversations to articles and other stories all information is important, even when it is poor information. The mere fact that older studies on the BDSM and kink community contradict what the more modern studies says a lot within itself. The mindset of the researcher and the methods that were used at the time were impacted by the already formed opinions of the researchers themselves. I want to be understood her and I am not saying that these researchers have done anything wrong or that it was their intention for a predetermined outcome. I am simply stating that the change in the methods and the overall mindset of our society has changed over time and it shows in the research that has been done over time. The same can be said for sharks as well. As we gain a better understanding of the world around us we are better able to ask the questions that will take the research and the society in general in a more educated and understanding direction. The research is only as good and questions that are asked and methods that are used. All information is important and useful if you know how to process the full extent of the information.

Once I have a basic understanding of the subject matter that will be involved with the story then the story goes into the two categories I spoke about in my story development blog. I either start writing or start outlining. Whichever way the story starts once the writing starts the research does not end. As the story continues to unfold there are always different ideas that come up and paths the story can take that require further in formation to follow. What a piece of equipment or furniture looks like, examples of a room or an article of clothing for an important events. The small details can make all the difference to the reader and give them a better understanding of the story, the character or setting.

Then there are times that a story will take a turn and new comes to me. For example in Blackwell Rising as the crime scenes came out the use of the St. Andrew's cross came up again and again. At first it was merely for dramatic effect, Sammy boy is a bit of a showman after all. Then I started wondering if there could be another reason for it. A question came to mind and down the rabbit hole I went. I ended up spending the next three hours researching the history of St. Andrew and the history of the piece of equipment that bares his name. Did I really need to know why it is called that... not really, I already had a reason for him using them. However did it add another layer to his character by doing so, yes. The connection the Catholic saint and the prayer cards of St. Andrew added just a little more depth to his character and really showed just how much of a narcissistic ass he really was.

The devil is in the details as they say. There are times that I get so wrapped up in the research and the interesting facts that I forget that I am actually doing this for a purpose. Remember that the details can make or break your story. Too many details and it can get boring, too few and you run the risk of your readers not following the story.

Whatever way a story is researched I always know one thing, I get to learn. I love to learn new things and find a better understanding of the world around me. One of the reasons that I write these stories is in order to show these different relationship dynamics in a healthy and realistic way. The other reason is because I enjoy finding a better understanding of the human mind and the need to for different dynamics within a relationship. Each person's mind is different and the way they connect to thoughts and feelings is always an individual brain chemistry experiment. Through our experiences and development each person develops their own brain chemistry and this how (in simple terms) you connect to your thoughts and emotions. Whatever dynamic works for the individual to feel safe and loved is what they need no mater what that is. I have done extensive research on the way the brain works and these articles and that information also influences the way I write my different characters and helps to give them depth.

I hope this can explain a bit about my though process and research process along with giving a little insight into why I create the stories I do.

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