Research is a vital component of many of our narrative’s and we endeavor to ensure the technicalities are exact. This is especially true when we are writing about something we have no personal knowledge of. The internet, can give us some information but we should not rely on it 100% – there have been cases of mis-information.
Say we require a character to be fighter pilot, as it is unlikely we can find or have personal experiences of this, we could try search engines but it may be limited. We must then delve into the history books and hopefully find people, who are willing to assist us in gathering as much information as possible to make the character come alive on paper.
My current word in progress, Willow Tree Tears, has a barrel racer as a central character. As I have only attended one small rodeo and, although I have ridden horses, I’ve never competed on one, I required first hand experience. Luckily, the internet is a great resource for finding people and organizations and so I was able to read descriptions and view photographs of rodeo’s to give me an idea of how the venue would look and sound. I also intend to attend a rodeo before the manuscript is finalized so I can make further authentic revisions.
However, in the meantime I really wanted a champion barrel racer to read the relevant sections of my story to approve the authenticity of them. So I sent out several requests via facebook and through personal websites to several barrel racers – graciously two replied and are reviewing the segments for me. I will thank them both by naming them in the finished novel and giving each of them a copy to review. (May be I will actually see them compete!)
We need to go that extra mile to ensure our readers – with or without knowledge of the subject matter – are confident we have written a true reflection of the particular subject in our novels. We can’t have a cell phone in 1650 or hovering cars in 2000, so it is true with the careers our characters have – no matter what century they are set in.
What have you researched for a novel?
Why did you pick that particular career/venue/organization?