Nifty guide to conducting research of your historical novels.
Evaluating & Finding Resources
Reading the Text & Taking Notes
Avoiding the Info Dump
Revealing Through Historical Details
From Research to Text
Conducting research for a novel is considered one of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks for a historical novelist. I know I’m not alone in looking at the clock and realizing that an hour of my planned writing time has been eaten by a “quick” internet search for the tiniest of details! The typical reaction of most to this arduous process of combing through research materials is to just see historical detail as embellishment and not as a character in its own right.
Another issue the novelist faces is evaluating research materials. We have Google and Wikipedia at our fingertips, large stacks of books borrowed from the library, forums and internet loops full of knowledgeable people, and even the ability to shoot a question off into Twitter. It is easy to acquire information, but how can we tell what is and what is not useful to our needs? And how can we be sure that the sources on which we do rely paint an unvarnished and relatively truthful portrait of the topic we are researching? With all of that, I wonder why we even bother writing historicals!
But that is precisely why I decided to share my tips and tricks for conducting research and also how to breathe life into your research, so that it doesn’t become info dump or the dreaded “history lesson”. If you’re up for the challenge, by the end of these two weeks you should feel less daunted by researching your novel and more confident in using history to reveal your characters.
This book is designed to sharpen and increase research skills. The initial chapters will focus on research tactics, where you will learn how to find the necessary resources, how to use my “spiral” approach to research, how to evaluate sources, and how to do speed-research when you need to cram as much info into your head as possible. The last chapters will focus on weaving your research into your novels using my own novels as examples.