Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, August 03, 2007

How to write about an unknown industry? Live it!

One of the chapters in my haunted houses book is about the haunt industry. I learned there even WAS a "haunt industry" in my research for this book. I decided it should go into this book so I set about the task of learning about it, since it was VERY unknown to me. (On that note, I kept calling it the "haunted house industry" until I learned the proper wording was "haunt industry.") I wasn't able to find much out about it on my search through the Internet. I came across sites, sure, but nothing told me what it WAS. (Maybe because I had the wording wrong in the beginning, my Internet search wasn't so helpful.) So I decided to find people to interview. One site owner I contacted led to finding MORE people and MORE sites to investigate. As I became more familiar with what this industry was all about, my search and research became more and more prosperous.

However, I was about to learn that interviewing people involved in this industry is just not enough to get the full grasp of what it's all about. I kept clicking and clicking on sites and Google soon opened the floodgates on even MORE sites for me to check out. As I saw one link after another appear in my search, I was AMAZED. Literally amazed. This industry is REALLY BIG. I had NO idea it was so huge, that there were so many resources and businesses and helpful sites. I mean, it even has its own radio site! Wow.

And there is a book written about it, too. Just one book, but I'm still going to check it out and hopefully land an interview with the author.

I have also learned that the more I submerge myself in this industry -- the more I read about it, talk to people, learn about it and visit the sites -- the more I am beginning to understand it better. Understand what it's all about. I have felt intimidation in the past about writing this chapter, because this industry is so unknown to me, but as I become more familiar with it, that intimidation fades.

One other thing I have learned in this experience: Sometimes, it's OK to trust the Internet. I've grown cautious with what I read on the 'Net, but when it comes to the haunt industry, you can bet there are some professional, bona fide sites that will be upfront and honest with you about this whole thing. These people are serious about what they do. The people I have talked to have been TREMENDOUSLY helpful and supportive. They are there to offer advice and information. They're not trying to scam anyone, spread rumors, start fights or try to make the other guy look bad. So in this case, I have been able to learn more about this industry through the Internet, because I know what I'm reading is the real deal.

There's also conventions held at different times of the year. Some are better than others. I am hoping I can attend one or two of them -- just to get a better feel. This is something I KNOW I should do, in addition to visiting one or two of the attractions these haunters build.

Learning about something new in order to write about it can involve so much time and effort. Just because it's not something easily understood doesn't make it impossible to write about. Ask questions, read EVERYTHING and check it out in person. By virtually putting myself into this "world" through interviews, research and even visits to actual sites (and not Web sites), I am better able to understand this unknown iundustry inside and out, and write about it as if I've known everything there is to know about it all along.

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