Novel Planning Phase Three: When Fiction Is Fact
My personal motto as an author? Never guess. Always check.
For me, research happens throughout the writing process. I call what happens before I start writing the presearch because it’s as much about finding inspiration as facts.
Since one of my series involves time travel, I do a ton of historical digging. What were people wearing? Eating? Reading? Singing? How did they travel? Spend their free time and money?
Did anything cool get invented – like the first flush toilet in 1778? (It didn’t work well, but it worked. It also, on occasion, exploded.)
Resource materials are best when they’re fresh – as in written during a specific era.
For The Best-Left Questions, I read Samuel Pepys’ diaries because he describes, first-hand, the Great Fire of London in 1666. I also read a “Gentleman’s Journal” from that same decade along with poetry and lyrics to hymns.
I just finished re-reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Published in 1792, it’s surprising relevant to our current state of affairs. In its day, it was considered both feminist (not a compliment) and scandalous (also not a compliment).
The heroine I’m preparing to write – Miss Rose Price – has her own special copy of Vindication which she’s read cover to cover at least twenty times. When The Glorious Governess begins, much of Rose’s personal motivation is based on Wollstonecraft’s observations.
Details like these reinforce authenticity – for settings, characters, and plot.
In All of Your Business, the heroes ride the London Eye. So, what did I do last summer? Ride the Eye while I was in London. (It’s a tough job, I know, but someone’s got to do it!)
My job as a writer is to get it right – as much as I possibly can. And if getting it right means yet another visit to England, then I’m all in!
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