January 28, 2011

Doing Your Research

Research. Either you love it or you hate it. I kinda like it, even though I am always itching to just start my story and forget about learning more about the era or town or whatever is going to make my story "real" to readers.

I love romance and found early in my twenties that the regency era provided great romance with a closed door policy...for the most part. Of course, that was twenty years ago and regencies are opening that door wide. Now that CBA is selling more of that era, I've been a happy camper, reading a genre I love AND having a spiritual element to it.

So I'm going to write one. I think it will a perfect setting for a story I had originally thought would make a good contemporary.

But first the research. While I have read tons of regencies, I need to research about the time in history. Of course there is the library, but the internet is also a great place to poke around, finding little gems of history.

So tell me, how do YOU research? What are your favorite tools? Favorite books? Favorite places to find the information you need?

11 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what house you're considering, but Love Inspired Historical is open to almost all eras, and they are always looking for new authors. They don't require agents either.

    As far as research, I've gotten to enjoy learning about the topics for my current WIPs. I'm always afraid of not doing enough and having a reader calling me on it.

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  2. My research has generally been coming from the internet (at least so far). The one thing I find with research is that I can get overwhelmed by all I find (depending on the subject). I end up coming up with questions, etc. during my research which results in more research...that's probably why I feel overwhelmed. That and sometimes not knowing where to start with research.

    So far, I've been sticking to modern times in my writing so the what I research tends to be things like jobs or how something works, etc.

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  3. Oh, and I should add (sorry for the second post), that I am like Lisa in that I'm afraid of not doing enough research and having the reader call me on it!

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  4. I'm not a huge fan of research but I admire those who are--and who can do it so well! I do like the kind of research that involves going somewhere, though, which doesn't happen often but I like to travel and be out and about. Otherwise, my research is pretty much getting to know my characters and that suits me fine :) Have a great weekend!

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  5. Oh, Sherrinda, you're talking my kind of books! I love regencies!! And I love research too, probably because it involves reading.

    Have a great weekend!

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  6. Because I'm contemporary, I usually find out as much as I can about my chracter's job or key plot point things, and then do the smaller bits of research while writing.

    Can you believe I've never read a regency?

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  7. I posted about this topic this week. I love the internet for a broad overview, and books, especially those published by historical societies and university presses. Original documents like diaries, letters, and newspapers are fonts of information and give you the flavor of the era. And museum curators and college professors are the BEST. They are passionate and informed and are DYING for someone to ask them about their area of expertise. :)

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  8. The internet is a great place to find bibliographies, and get you started. If your library does interlibrary loan, ask them if it's just for books, or for periodicals, too. Another library may be happy to photocopy an article for you.

    There are lots of places to find articles, like jstor, but to read articles you wither need a membership or you'd have to order the article through interlibray loan.

    For what you're trying to do, I think your best bet is to find a book on the period that gives you a broad overview, not going too specific in any one area, on the history of the time period in the city your novel will be set.

    The only other type of book I think you need is one on the fashion of the time, because eventually the heroine is going to be dressing, or undressing, and the clothes for women of some social status were quite intricate and most outfits could not be gotten into without help.

    Lastly, find some good regency novels and devour them. That should help you figure out how much detail you need to include. Is it obvious yet that I love research? *blushes*

    Good luck!

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  9. I worked on the opening chapter of my new historical idea last night. Started at 11 p.m. By the time I turned the light of at 4:45 a.m., I'd written about 500 words . . . but I knew A LOT more about steamship travel and train travel in 1851 than I had six hours before. The Regency era was SO much easier for me because I'd written all those research papers on Jane Austen and her novels before I started, so I already knew the era.

    To give you a leg-up with your Regency research:
    http://kayedacus.com/2009/06/18/ransomes-honor-the-research/
    (and I added a few other books to that bibliography with the two subsequent books). If you see anything on that list you'd like to borrow, just let me know! (And you know you can always just shoot me an e-mail with a question---I can probably answer it easier than you could look it up!)

    Another great resource is Linore Rose Burkard's website: http://www.linoreburkard.com/resources.html#ra

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  10. Good luck, Sherrinda!

    Research is okay, but not right off. When I'm writing a rough draft I just use notes and placeholders, and then when going back through things I take the time to find out what I need. If you allow the right time and have the right frame of mine, it's not too bad.

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  11. Sherrinda, I'm delighted to hear that you're writing a Regency. I hope you have fun doing the research and are soon diving into your new story.

    I love research and have shelves filled with reference books on the Victorian era and California history.

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