Research. According to Dictionary.com research is: diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc. In fact, it comes from two French words, which mean “to search.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that makes sense.
Writers, especially authors of historical novels seem to revel in research. And I do love to learn more about a subject when I’m really interested in it. However, I am a victim of two things: A wandering mind and lack of patience! Even when I was in elementary school, I would be looking up facts for a report on an animal and I would inevitably start reading about some great writer, artist, statesman, an exotic place or beautiful plant in the encyclopedia. So many facts, so little time!
These days I sometimes don’t ask the right question and this leads to frustration. When I want to pin down whether a certain product was available in 1900, but I can’t find anything exact about it’s history, I panic. Well, okay, I want to pound the desk, but doing that won’t make any difference. My impatience becomes visible. And I keep trying, but it may mean making a change in my story.
One of my favorite resources for research is finding good, but inexpensive used books online for studying my subject and having them sent right to my door. Often books, if they’re in the public domain, and are available for anyone to read right there online. And of course, don’t forget interlibrary loan. Then there are journals and historical books found in the stores of museums and historical sites, but they may be a costlier investment.
This week I’ll be tackling some rewriting, but I will also be spending time in research, journeying into the past to ancient Egypt. I’ll definitely be praying that the Lord leads me in the right direction to find some things I need to know.
If you’ve put a manuscript aside and you need some impetus to get back into your story, try setting aside some time for research this week. Get yourself back into the mood for working on your story and save time later by having some facts at hand.
Writing prompt: The archaeologist slid further down the narrow passageway into the Pharaoh’s tomb and became
wedged . . .
wedged . . .
Take several minutes to explore how you might feel in the archaeologist’s place and how she or he might get out of this predicament!
Please share your favorite methods of research in the comment section below. Do you delve into research before writing? During writing? Or after the first draft is written? Which do you think saves the most time?