Saturday, January 22, 2011

The SOURCE (aka My Favorite Form of Research)

Me: Ring. Ring.

The SOURCE answers, “Hello.”

Me: Hi, I need some help with . . . (Insert research topic here that yours truly knows nothing about).

The SOURCE laughs. “OK, what do you want to know?

Me: Well . . . (Insert inane question and uneducated plan for what I want to write about). Can I do this?

The SOURCE wavers, attempting to be polite, then says . . . (Insert reason here why my idea is not particularly likely. Or believable).

Me: OK, what about this . . .

The SOURCE says, “Why don’t you just do it this way . . .? (He/she suggests a perfectly logical idea that interferes with something absolutely essential to the plot of whatever book I am writing).

Me: No, that’s not going to work. (I try to explain).

“OK,” says the SOURCE. “Well, what about this . . .” (Provides another suggestion, less common, but for some reason more suited to my story).

Me: I don’t know. Possibly. Though it doesn’t sound as good as my original idea. What about this . . .? (I make another suggestion).

“I guess maybe that could work,” the SOURCE replies, “if you . . .” (He/she mentions a technical term that the author was heretofore unaware of).

Me: Oh, what’s that?

The SOURCE explains.

Me: That’s cool. Could you tell me a little more about that?

The SOURCE explains some more.

This pattern continues while I ask three million more questions, ending with the following:
Me: OK so how about this? (I provide a new plot idea).

"Yes," says the SOURCE.

Me: (Jumping up and down inside because I think I’ve finally found a viable solution). And this would be correct?

“Yes,” replies the SOURCE, “Well, you realize this . . .” (A new problem arises).

Me: No, I didn’t, what is . . .

The SOURCE explains some more.

We haggle.

Me: OK, I can work with that. Now, let me read over my notes, and you tell me if all this is right.

The SOURCE says, “You realize my lunch break is over, and I really wasn’t planning on spending it all on the phone discussing . . . (whatever inane topic I have called about).

I read through the notes.

The SOURCE picks apart said notes, corrects said notes, and fixes stupid assumptions within said notes.
Then eventually gives me the magic words. “Yes, that’s right.”

Me: Thank you!

“Is that all?” asks the SOURCE who can’t wait to return to reality.

Me: “Yes, I think that’s it!”

I can hear the SOURCE’s sigh of relief.

Me: I might call you tonight if I have any follow-up questions.

“I know,” replies the SOURCE.


  1. I wonder what it must feel like to be a fountain of knowledge.

  2. I suspect it's not nearly as fun as prying said knowledge from the fountain.