Monday, July 7, 2014

Research, and Other Four Letter Words

Research. To some, it’s the bane of their writerly life. I love to research, but recently had a problem where a lack on my part would have made a very serious faux-pas in my work. The novel is historical fiction, about a mythical set of people who may or may not have existed, as well as some of my own made-up characters, but all of them are interacting in very real events, with very real people. I was about to send my champion into a war that was not going on at the time. Whoops!

And so, I went back to my handy-dandy Google and searched. I found one skirmish that might have worked, but the time frame of when my hero would be there would have to be changed. I continued to search, and found a possible invasion that could work. Nice thing is (not for the people who lived through it, but for an author looking for such things), this era was fraught with wars, skirmishes, battles, and invasions.

When I research, I tend to head to the Google-foo, and I often begin with Wikipedia. Yeah, I know--*shudder*. But, it is a good place to start, to find basic information that can later be validated on other websites. Whatever the research, I try to find at least three sources that say the same thing, often using books or experts when and where possible.

I also try to write a little about what I’ve discovered. Reading more than one source, and writing a short paper on the subject, help me to learn more about it. Immersing myself in the subject is also quite helpful. Sometimes, I even make up flash cards, and I’m thinking of making up little quizzes for myself. Yeah, I know—GEEK!

Sometimes, research can be extremely fun, though. Researching what my male characters look like can turn into an afternoon of having to wear a bib so as to avoid drooling on the keyboard, thus shorting out the laptop. Exploring the many adjectives and turns of phrase used in romantic scenes can require Depends Adult Diapers from the laugh factor.

Then, there are other times when the research is downright boring. Timelines. Who did what when. And while herbs interest me, studying all of their uses in their various forms can be tedious.

But whether the research is boring or fun, it is necessary. At least, it is if you plan on writing an accurate story. My plan is always to write a story that is as accurate as possible. And so, I am off to Google again.

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