I had a great deal of fun at the end of 2019 when I reviewed all of the research I’d had to carry out for my short stories throughout the year. Thorough inquiry is no guarantee of a good narrative (my wife, an excellent editor, has put several exhaustively researched but poorly written stories out of their misery), it is an end in itself.
It is a well-worn writer’s trope that a search of their internet history would render them of interest to the authorities, but in my experience it is the bizarre rather than the criminally-insane which more regularly requires research. When doing doctoral research it is easy to get swept up in the skill and brilliance of others’ research – when I was supposed to be reading Evely et al.’s 2008 article for research methodology purposes, I got caught up with their conservation case study in the Cairngorms National Park. Fascinating but not productive as far as writing up my research!
Investigation for the sake of fiction, however…well, there’s no guilt attached to that. One can go as deep down the rabbit hole as necessary, all in the name of research or for finding that spark of inspiration. Here are a selection of mineshafts I have stumbled down during the last year: