Historical Fiction, Strange Research Methods, and Other Ramblings
I have a mortal horror of getting facts wrong when I’m writing historical fiction.
It’s a problem.
Because when you’re inserting fictional characters in a real time period with people who actually existed… it’s kind of hard to keep things completely factual.
Actually, it’s impossible.
Fiction is fiction. History is history.
And anything that I write isn’t going to change history. It’s just going to show people what I think about the time period. What my characters would have thought about the time period. What the time period should have been like. (Kidding. Totally kidding here.)
Whoa. Feels good to get that off my chest. (Not to mention, I now have an explanation for anyone who hates me because my story isn’t historically accurate. Team Zane for the win!)
Now on to my Very Strange Research Methods.
When I first begin to research for one of my stories, I generally go to Wikipedia first. And then the library.
And I check out a looooooooootttt of books.
At least… as many as the library has.
If you don’t mind me getting sidetracked for a minute… There is a severe lack of young adult nonfiction. In our library, at least. There are plenty of books in the juvenile section, but they usually lack information. There are also plenty of thick, heavy tomes in the adult section, but if you’re like me, you don’t want to read through all of that just to get to the one thing you’re writing about.
All right. Back on track. I read as much as I can: nonfiction. Books set in the time period I’m writing. Writing craft books.
Anything I can’t find in the library, I go back to Wikipedia.
But sometimes Wikipedia just doesn’t cut it.
Since I’m not allowed to search the Internet by myself yet, this time ’round I asked my dear, wonderful mother to search for me! And I asked her to search some pretty weird, random things. Like, “Russian embassy Washington D.C. 1950s.”
And she found me some awesome articles that allowed me to write like I actually had a clue.
Thanks, Mom! You’re the best.
And that concludes my research “process”. (I’m not planning to be done with this story anytime soon. Or even planning on showing it to anyone once it’s done. So… yeah. Sorry.)
I’m loving writing historical fiction.
By the way, a quick update. I was just informed that we are heading to North Carolina bright and early tomorrow morning to Salem, a historical village. (With three kids. And a dog. Adventure awaits!) I am so excited.
Hope you enjoyed this peek into my “writing life”! Thanks for reading, and please comment if you have any questions or responses.