Over the years in Night Writers, while we often focus more on the writing itself–on turns of phrase, on whether the scene is coming to life with all the senses–or on how a character is coming across, or character development, the issue of realism comes up, too.
A story will ring true only if it sticks as closely as possible to facts. If Robin Hood and his merry men are eating potatoes–not available in Europe in his time!–any reader who knows that is likely to have a sudden disruption of the Suspension of Disbelief. And so, research is vital.
Some time ago, it was the question of whether the state which was the setting in Lyn’s book was likely to have a tornado blow through. For us in Minnesota, it seemed quite natural to write in a tornado, but we discovered this particular state was unlikely to experience that. The state was changed.
Last night, it was the question of how early a pregnancy test can give results, although that particular issue will likely end up being written out of the manuscript, anyway.
While the level of research can take a lot of time, I’m guessing that one of the things all of us like about writing is that we are continually learning about the world around us. Judy, for instance, has learned a great deal about honey pots–a sort of cyber trap to catch criminals–from a computer expert, for the conclusion of her book See That House.
Janet’s first book, The Sion Grail, involved years of research into certain regions of France, the Black Madonna, various theological beliefs, and more. The book is based, in part, on her own experiences in France. Her current book book involves researching schizophrenia.
For Laura, research has involved not only internet, books, and multiple trips to Scotland, the setting of her Blue Bells Chronicles, but studying the language spoken by a number of people in the story–Scottish Gaelic. To that end, she keeps the Gaelic Word a Day blog–which is inevitably more than a word a day.
Stephanie, for her work in progress, has recently visited wine country in California to see firsthand some of the locations of her book. Genny’s books, being non-fiction, must by necessity have accurate information about the 50s and 60s, and about the areas of Northeast (or Nordeast as we say here) Minneapolis of which she writes.
We would love to hear from other writers. What do you research? What have you learned from writing?