Wednesday, July 9, 2008

World Building II: Research

Maven Darcy BurkeSince I just shipped out Her Wicked Ways to my agent I am now focusing on my new ms, Their Wicked Bargain. (Check out the new teaser blurb on my website!) But, wow, it's been awhile since I started a new book! I, er, forgot how hard that can be. I actually started the book a couple of times recently, but neither effort was "right." I'm armed with GMCs, inciting incidents, turning points, and black moments. I even know (I think) how the HEA will work out. Why then, have I spent a week working on the first scene and I'm still not done?

Research, MaveFaves.

One of the reasons I write (and read) historicals is the research aspect. Last week I talked about world-building and that's the other reason. And, unfortunately, you can't have the latter without the former. The more you know about the period in which you're writing, the better the world you build. For example, the heroine lives with her cousin and his wife. Her cousin is fifteen years older than her and well established in a career. Now, what kind of career would a guy living outside the second-largest city in Wales have? Turns out he's an agent for a copper smelting factory. So far anyway. There's still some research outstanding. I've read about how smelting works and how dirty and awful most factory conditions were during this period. Will I use this information in the book? Not most of it. But, just knowing it will make the heroine's cousin more real. And the more real the characters, the more real the world.

Sometimes I get caught up in what some people might call ridiculous details (okay, that's what I call them) - how far places are apart, actual names of towns and landmarks in the area, what day it is, you get the picture. But to me these things are important and I'm beginning to see how they impact the world I'm building.

How do you feel about research? Best part? Rather stick a machete in your eye? Ever written around having to do research or chosen a path that wouldn't require you to fact-check? True confession time: do you have Wikipedia bookmarked?

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8 comments:

Erica Ridley said...

I am addicted to Wikipedia, baby! (And WikiHow!!) Although I'd usually rather stick a machete in my eye to read some dusty boring old tome on [something that would probably really help me but I'm far too ADD to read], the Internet often sucks me in with its magical connecting links and I occasionally lose hours of my day to research when I only meant to look up One Tiny Thing. Heh.

lacey kaye said...

Sometimes, it's tempting to just start writing the book with the idea, "I'll research it later." Invariably, my idea is wrong, though, and I end up having to rewrite the scene/book.

Copper smelting? Sounds fun!

beverley said...

I confess, I do have Wikipedia bookmarked and Dictionary of Victorian London. My first book I had to research upfront a lot (probably a month or so), the second book I'd research when necessary. The third book I have to research the some laws, but again I will do that when I get there. Now when I switch to another era like regency or perhaps Edwardian, I almost have to start from scratch. (well only sort of)

Kendra said...

Hey, stranger!

I have a library of texts on serial killers, forensics, and psychology. For the MS I just finished, bought eight books on wilderness survival. I do look at wikipedia, but I use it as a direction guide. I don't take any facts from there.

Darcy Burke said...

E, I love me some Wiki. That and imdb.com. Can't.Live.Without.IMDB.

Lace, I resemble that exercise. Just look under my bed at the ms-that-shall-be-forgotten.

Hi Beverley! Sounds like you do a right thorough job. Well done!

Kendra's back in the house! You are a true disciplinarian to use Wiki as you do. Well done you, too. And congrats on finishing the book!! (Lovely pic, btw.)

Bill Clark said...

Gotta 'fess up - I needed to do some research this morning for something I'm writing, and Wikipedia was my first (and only) stop. It was all right there! Better yet, it fit in perfectly with the story line. I mean, how much better can it get?!

MM said...

I love research. I feel like I can get so many great ideas while looking things up, especially when my plot outline simply says, "its about a girl..."

Elyssa Papa said...

I love the concept. And I really love the Fight Club set in Regency England high concept.

I research as I need to, but since I write contemporaries, I kind of luck out. Every so often, I need to look something up. I had to do a lot of research with the last manuscript with the South Africa setting, and I complained the whole time doing it. But, I did learn a lot.

Most of which didn't end up in the actual book, mind you. LOL.

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