Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Research is Fun

Many years ago (which is strange to say, but stranger because it's true), I came up with a character who will remain in my top five favorite fictional characters of all time.  I'm pretty sure that, even if I never get a traditional publishing deal with this character, I will eventually (when I have the experience to do so) put out books staring this character.  Of course my goal is traditional publishing, but that's not important right now.

What IS important is the occupation of this character's father.  And brother.  And grandfather.  They all own a brewery together (and a farm, but that's just to make sure they have the ingredients they need).  It's a family affair, and the protagonist of my story isn't involved in the business.  He doesn't really want to be involved, but he loves his family, and they play an important role in the background of my novel.

Now, I don't know much about brewing beer despite taking THREE tours of the Coors facility in Golden.*  The process has always fascinated me (and by always, I mean for at least four years).  So yesterday The Wife and I brewed our very first, ever, batch of beer at home!

I took pictures, and I will take more when we bottle, and then I'll post them here when we have a chance to sample the beer!  It was a lot of fun, but exhausting.  It took longer than I expected because our stove isn't as efficient as a gas stove, and I washed my hands more times than I thought possible just to make sure I didn't contaminate any of the containers or ingredients.

I didn't really learn a ton: it's mostly just taking the ingredients from a kit and following the instructions.  Like having Cracker Barrel ship you their food.  They pre-package everything and give you heating instructions.  That's pretty much what I did.

I do know that next time I'm going to have more ice on hand to cool the wort faster.  I'd like to get a wort cooling coil, but I don't have the cash for that yet.

Anyway, if YOU have some research to do for YOUR story, I recommend doing it!  Hobbies are fun, they educate you, and they're a darn site better than watching TV all night :).

Question Time: What research projects have you enjoyed for your writing?  What projects have you avoided because you don't know how difficult it would be?  Or you're scared?  Which projects terrified you, but you did them anyway?  And how did it turn out?

*Sarcasm.  There's a lot of basic information about how to make beer throughout the Coors tour, but it's hardly definitive.


  1. That's the best research ever.

  2. My father-in-law brews beer (if you want a contact). I'm sure he'd love to share his expertise. Awesome way to research!

  3. Giles, your research will be richly rewarding – if not, it will add material for your novel.
    While researching for my recently published novel, Vagilantes, I enrolled in two different Citizen's Academies – one for the city and one for the county. These multi-week courses required a small fee, ($25 included a t-shirt and graduation dinner), provided a wealth of information, and connected me more solidly to my community. (I volunteer in support of our police department.)
    Even if you don't write about murder, police procedure and investigation, I strongly suggest you consider scheduling a Citizen's Academy. You might experience target practice, death investigation techniques, 911 response prochedures, a jail tour, accident-avoidance drivers training, and a real life ride a'long with an officer. After you learn more about our police and justice system, you may find a new passion.

    1. Julie that sounds amazing! BTW, I have Vagilantes on my Kindle. Can't wait to read it!

  4. Most of my research has been at the library, until recently. I joined a group who claims to be able to do what my main character can in a WIP. Very interesting people. I am learning a lot.

  5. I really want to interview a woman who has been in an abusive relationship because my MC is such a woman, but I don't know how to go about it and what questions would be okay to ask and... I'm scared. LOL.