You can look it up

When I switched from contemporary to fantasy, I thought it would be easy. I could make up my own world and no one could argue with my rules, descriptions or flights of fancy because after all, it was MY world.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I had to do a lot of research about New Orleans in the 1890s, even though “A Question of Loyalty” is an alternate history. I realized things couldn’t be too different in this world or readers would have no frame of reference. So I had to find out about river travel, and calculate distance and time. I had to be able to describe a turn-of-the century hotel and food.

There were some surprises, such as the fact that the city was contemplating building a golf course way back then. A fun fact I incorporated, making the hero completely ignorant of the game and wondering if his guide was pulling his leg when he described it.

I discovered there were no doctors in Baton Rouge at the time. But there was a Jesuit church, and I made the priest there the “go-to” person for accidents and illnesses.

The truth is, trying to chase down one fact and finding another is what makes writing both fun and frustrating.

I am now about one-third of the way through “A Question of Time” and I am running into the same problem. My hero, Nathan, has been catapulted in to New York City in 1960.

Although I visited there myself in that time period, my memory isn’t all that good. So I’ve been scrolling through photos and YouTube videos, trying to get a feel for what Nathan would find familiar and what would be jarring.

And, one of my characters is a cat. She plays a pivotal role, and I needed to be sure I was right when I said she could only see black and white.

I’m glad I researched it, because new evidence shows cats can see colors, they just can’t see reds very well.

After this book I may go back to contemporary stories so I won’t have to look so many things up.

Have you ever researched something and found it took you on an entirely different tangent? Did you have to change anything you’d already written to fit the facts you’d unearthed?

If so, please leave a comment and share.

I hate being alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lorrainequinn4
    Feb 08, 2015 @ 17:44:01

    You are not alone. I’m afraid of what the government will find in my browser history. My second book Tarnished Sterling is a contemporary set in Pennsylvania Amish country. The drug dealers are using an Amish farm and buggies to store and transport drugs. While I am familiar with the Amish culture, I have to figure out how the drug lords can manufacture and distribute without the Amish community closing ranks. So I have researched drug trafficking, Amish culture, government agencies, and mafia killing tactics, to name some resent searches. Since I know nothing about what drugs are the most marketable, I must research. Then, how much is considered a felony verse a misdemeanor. See it spirals out of control! Now I stumbled on to synthetic drugs – some new hybrid. The more I research to more my story changes.

    Reply

    • Sandy Bruney
      Feb 09, 2015 @ 08:43:58

      It’s a never-ending spiral! Sounds like a great story. We had Amish neighbors for years and got quite friendly — I even babysat while they picked corn. I can tell you, there is a network there and they know EVERYTHING going on in the neighborhood. How, I don’t know as they have no telephones. I am curious as to whether you have an Amish man involved in the drug scene or are the farmers innocent and being used? If you need a beta reader, I’m in!

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      Reply

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