Created By: MidasMint on March 20, 2009
Nuked

Did Too Much Research

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Trope
The over-achieving cousin of Did Not Do The Research.

A writer, as conscientious writers do, may hit the books (or the Wikipedia) to get a little grounding on the settings, backgrounds, historical figures, and props that will figure into their story, and they'll wind up with a sprawl of facts. The trope comes into play when the writer fails to sift through their research for the most interesting or relevant info - and instead, simply slops the entirety of their notes onto the page without a care for narrative flow.

The result? That Parisian chase scene you're reading suddenly screeches to a halt to admit three paragraphs of exposition on the leading lights of eighteenth century French topiary. All because the characters ran past a couple of hedge sculptures during the pursuit.

Too Much Research can sometimes be a symptom of Author Appeal, and often sees use as Padding or Filler of the most boring kind. Generally too pointless and random to count as an Author Filibuster - we're talking pedantic digressions rather than political ones.

This is mostly a literary trope, and for whatever reason it's particularly common in paperback thrillers - think James Patterson, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy. Moby-Dick's whaling digressions are Too Much Research on a truly awesome scale. Brian K. Vaughan sometimes commits this when characters who should have no interest in a given topic will suddenly declaim irrelevant factoids pertaining to it.

  • The first book of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver, starts with a long discussion of politics.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • March 20, 2008
    Gambrinus
    I suppose I should probably mention Neal Stephenson before someone else does...but I would point out that if this sort of thing annoys you, you probably should not read Neal Stephenson to begin with.
  • March 20, 2008
    Detrs
    I disagree with Brown and Patterson, and there are definitely more technologically oriented writers out there (Dale Brown and Larry Bond come to mind).

    Ellis Peters likely falls on this list, but I've never found her digressions to be all that distracting from the story.
  • March 20, 2008
    Octal
  • March 20, 2008
    Doug S. Machina
    Larry Beinhart's American Hero has a character like this: a screenwriter who puts far too research into his scripts, to the point where if he was writing about a bank robbery it would have so much exposition it would be unmakeable as a film, but workable as a bank robbery.
  • March 20, 2008
    Stinkoman87
    Octal, I think this is an overdose of Shown Their Work . This is it's bad brother.
  • March 20, 2008
    fleb
    So you're saying it's... The Same But More.
  • March 20, 2008
    INH
    Dan Brown's examples overlap with Did Not Do The Research much of the time. A lot of the stuff that he goes on long tangents about is apocryphal or rests on very shaky historical evidence.
  • March 20, 2008
    KJMackley
    It seems like it goes Did Not Do The Research at the bottom, Shown Their Work in the happy middle ground, and this is the far extreme where it slows down the story.

    I'll probably get some arguments, but Rurouni Kenshin was like this. I think the author was well versed in swordplay and martial arts and most of the fights revolve around demonstrations. That would have been fine but in the end all fights were won primarily with superhuman abilities and the loss of normal physics then actual professional skill. Still a fun show to watch, though.
  • March 20, 2008
    DoctorNemesis
    This would be when an author gets a bit too eager to show off that they've done the research and ends up bogging down their story with useless trivia that clogs everything up, correct?

    I think something like this was proposed a while ago, but as I recall it eventually got bogged down in an argument about the intricacies of correct Spanish pronunciation or something, so I don't think it got anywhere. Sounds good to me, though.
  • March 20, 2008
    Octal
    Oh, whoops, I was thinking of "I suffered for my art, now it's your turn" when I linked to Shown Their Work... I guess that is potentially the milder version.
  • March 21, 2008
    LORd
    Meh, I would too argue that this is Shown Their Work, Only More So. A trope should be able to include both the good, bad and decent uses of itself.
  • March 21, 2008
    Carnildo
  • March 21, 2008
    fleb
    We really, really shouldn't do tropes that are The Same But More-- as the page says.
  • March 21, 2008
    Pundabaya
    It isn't the same. This trope is where the research shown in the work is detrimental to the work itself. its like if you plotted a graph of research against quality, you'd get a bell curve, with Shown Their Work as the highest point, in the middle.

    If this trope was Shown Their Work Only More So, you'd get a straight line.

    If you don't think that this is true, you'd better lump Did Not Do The Research and Shown Their Work as well.

    Anyway, someone really ought to tell Tom Clancy that when a helicopter is chasing the protagonist, we don't need to know the make, model, year of creation, designers name, test pilot, various nicknames, armaments, ammunition counts, name of camouflage scheme of said helicopter.
  • March 21, 2008
    Tanto
    This is a horribly subjective trope -- one man's Shown Their Work is another man's this. I'd like to stay away from it for that reason -- I've got a feeling that quite a few series will end up on both lists. A lot of people find it impressive when an author goes into a lot of unnecessary depth.
  • March 21, 2008
    Rogue 7
    Tanto- that's true. I enjoyed Rurouni Kenshin for that.
  • March 21, 2008
    bluepenguin
    @Doctor Nemesis: It was over whether "Hueco Mundo" was technically grammatically correct Spanish or not, I believe. Not that I participated in said argument, or anything. Really.

    Anyway, I agree that this is Shown Their Work only more so, and as such shouldn't be a separate trope.
  • March 21, 2008
    Snake712
    Also "Menos Grande". (Incidentally, my Spanish textbook says that "menos grande" is correct Spanish for "less big". But the way Bleach uses it is weird, they have "grande" as the adjective to "menos" and Spanish doesn't work like that.)

    And I think this IS Shown Their Work. It's not even Shown Their Work Only More So.
  • March 21, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    The distinction between this and Shown Their Work is listed in the latter article: "The trick is to do it so this advances the story instead of stopping it cold".

    Did Too Much Research is what happens when the story gets derailed by pointless trivia. The research in this case does not do anything to advance the story, but rather slows it down.

    Of course, whether this is good or bad is subjective: some people might actually find the technological navel-gazing fascinating.

    A related problem seems to crop up in science fiction: sometimes the story gets slowed down by the author's obsessive need to describe his fantastic new technology in minute detail. It isn't quite Did Too Much Research, though, since the information provided is typically fictional (if sometimes vaguely rooted in actual physics).
  • March 21, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Nobody has mentioned Michael Chrighton yet?
  • March 21, 2008
    fleb
    UT: Not so much. "The trick" is just shorthand for "If you want to do this WELL, do this" -- it doesn't necessarily preclude that examples might not use said trick, and therefore suck. (The whole "This trope, only done badly" pattern is as much of a mistake as "this trope, only over nine-THOUSAND," IMO.)
  • March 22, 2008
    UnknownTroper
    Morgan Wick: This is Shown Their Work Only More So, and the attempt to distinguish them only turns this into Complaining About Shows You Dont Like.
  • March 22, 2008
    joey jojo
    Disagree. Show their work is where research is adds to the story, this is where the research overtakes the story.
  • March 22, 2008
    BobbyG
    @ joey jojo: But it's a matter of opinion which is which. This is complaining about shows you don't like because the writers have done the research and showed it off a little more than you're happy with. I don't think that the poorly executed version of Shown Their Work is splittable.
  • March 22, 2008
    {{Meta4}}
  • March 22, 2008
    Tanto
    As has been noted, the big problem with this trope is that in order to keep it from being Shown Their Work Only More So, you have to make a value judgment, and we want to keep the tropes value-neutral.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=zcztyvut&trope=ShownTheirWorkDiscussion