Sunday, April 10, 2005

On Research...
Ok - so I'm returning to this topic after reading Lydia's recent post about her encounter with a critical reader. One who assumed Lydia didn't know what she was talking about, then was rude after Lydia explained why she did what she did in her debut book, The Veil of Night. Now, I haven't read it yet, but based on what I've seen from the History Notes section of Lydia's website, along with her article on Romance and Accuracy I'm pretty darned certain who I'd be believing.

I too am pretty obsessed with getting things right. Will spend hours/days - even weeks, researching something, just to be certain I'm right. Granted, I'm not on deadline, so maybe I won't have the luxury of doing so in the future, if I get published. But I'd find a way, no matter what. I WILL NOT sacrifice accuracy in my historical detail. To me, it's all part of my world building and I cannot let go of it.

A big part of the problem, I believe, is that a lot of readers DO believe everything they read in a novel to be true. Yet there are a fair number of writers out there who do make historical mistakes - either because they depend on faulty research (which is why one confirms details with at least three independent sources) or because accuracy for them only goes so far. Which is fine - it's THEIR choice.

For that reason, however, I emphasize to anyone who asks me about research, NEVER use a work of fiction as a source for your own novel. Even those authors who pride themselves on getting the details right will tell you that.

Lest you think Lydia and I are the only two writers out there expounding on this, we're not! Carolyn Jewel has a great article on her website while Alicia Rasley is very clear in about the necessity to "err on the side of accuracy".

Will have to finish here. The kitchen still needs some attention after last night's yummy dinner. And as my dh did the first round while I was catching up on sleep (I had a bout of insomnia in the middle of the night), it's up to me to finish the rest :-)



Brenda Bradshaw said...

Now see? This is why I tend to write about what I know, and that only covers the years 1969-2005, with the exception of 1992, when the pretend brain tumor incident claimed several months of my memory. Oh, and parts of this year, when the meds make me weird. (Okay, weirder than normal!)

I cannot imagine writing a historical and the work that would go into it just in research alone!!! I envy those that can do it, and read it and enjoy it in my ignorance of whether it's fact or fiction. Bad, BAD Brenda.

Sucks about the insomnia. HATE that. If you're up at night you'll have to sign onto MSN Messenger and we can spend the night lamenting together and sharing in the misery.

Tess said...

Brenda - it's all in what you're looking for in a book. As for the research, I've been doing it so long I sometimes feel more comfortable in the past than the present!

LOL re messengering. Next time I'm up, I'll try it out. Not sure if I have Messenger configured, but am pretty certain it's on my cpu somewhere *g*. Normally I try not to use the computer when I'm up - I just read. But sometimes I just can't resist its lure *vbg*.