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Ladies and Gentlemen, Today I bring you Ms. Maccie’s thoughts on the importance of research when writing a novel. Many of us know research is an important part of the writing process, but sometimes we forget how crucial it is we do it. Especially when it comes to young adult fiction. Many young adult writers have not been teenagers for several years (and sometimes more than a decade) and it is important we immerse ourselves in a teenager environment. Thank you Ms. Maccie for taking the time to write this for my blog. Without further ado, Ms. Maccie:
Ms. Liz Maccie:
Since I had been out of high school for many years once I started writing “Lesson I Never Learned…” it was important for me to do some hands on research. I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to my old high school and spend an entire day talking to kids and simply observing a day in the life of a teenager. It’s funny because many things were how I remembered them to be, but then there were other aspects that I didn’t clearly remember. One of my favorite parts of my day of research was walking back out to the reservoir behind the school. The way it looked and sounded and smelled was so specific. I even found a poem posted to a tree stump that I wound up putting in the book. It certainly isn’t necessary, but since I was essentially writing about my old high school, it was a wonderful thing to get to go back and allow for my memory and imagination to marry one another.
Besides that day, I really spent time looking back into my own past. There are fragments of my personal experience woven throughout the entire book and in every character’s story. So I feel there was an element of “personal research.” I wrote down an entire list of events that had happened to me and deciphered which I most wanted to talk about. I would say it was pretty obvious to me the issues I wanted to try and tackle right from the very beginning. When writing a novel, you really need to open your own life up to be examined. I do think it’s true, we write what we know, but sometimes its beneficial to research what we know. What I mean by this is that you really have to get honest with yourself. You have to do some personal excavation in order to tell the truth about things and that isn’t always easy.
I was also lucky enough, at the time I was writing this novel, to be volunteering at a couple of schools with an organization called “The Young Storytellers.” This is a fabulous group who helps kids find their voice and then write their very own screenplay, which eventually gets acted out by professional actors. So even though these kids were younger, I think just being around kids was a great way to do research. Really, when it comes down to it, we all care very much about a lot of the same things. We all want to matter. We all want to love and to be loved. Kids are so candid and real. It was great research to just be around such youthful honest energy.