When an idea comes to you, for a novel, a play or a screenplay, how do you take it from its embryo state to a place where you are ready to let it stand as a work on its own? How can you find out enough about your idea so you can feel confident about using it in your writing? Gabriel García Márquez, when speaking about The Autumn of the Patriarch, said that he spent ten years reading about dictators, and then forgot everything he had read while he was writing his novel. Do all writers do their research beforehand, before they begin writing? To answer these questions I spoke with some novelists and screenwriters about their ways of working. What I wanted to discover was a set of guidelines emerging from my conversations with experienced writers, guidelines to keep in mind which will help you as you begin to investigate the material for your own work, whether it’s a novel or a script. Here is what I found out.
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