MuseTracks Guest – Georgie Lee – Tackling Your Research

Toady’s special MuseTracks guest is multi-published phenom (and fellow Carina Press author) Georgi Lee.

Welcome Georgie!

*Research, research and a little more research.

Research, for me, is not an onerous task. When I’m ready to start writing about a particular time period, I can’t wait to go to the library, pull every book available on that era off the shelf, take them home and lose myself in a new time period. However, research isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can be overwhelming deciding where to begin, what to look for and when to stop. Today, I want to offer some advice and a few suggestions for getting started and seeing it through until “The End.”

The first thing to do is…

Start Big: You know what era you want to write about, so it’s time to learn about the era. General overview books are a great place to start because they give you the key politics, ideas, people and events that helped shape the time period. Once you know the basics, you can begin to…

Narrow things down: Decide when in the era you want your story to take place then focus your research accordingly. In my ancient Rome novella, Mask of the Gladiator, the story takes place in January 41 A.D. during Caligula’s assassination. As a result, I read books about Caligula, both ancient and modern, with special focus on his assassination. I took notes on the names of plotters, the details of the assassination, the havoc wreaked by the mad emperor and the impact of his death. I also had to be aware of whether or not things like the iconic Colosseum existed in 41 AD. It didn’t, so I researched whether or not there was another coliseum in existence at the time that was being used for gladiatorial matches. Details like this are important since mistakes can pull a reader out of the story. So can botched details concerning everyday life. So once you’re done narrowing things down, it’s time to…

Get personal: The details of everyday life help create characters, make them real and flavor a narrative. I started researching everyday life in ancient Rome, from the slaves who dressed the nobility’s hair, to the kind of food served at banquets, and the interior of Roman homes. I sprinkled these details throughout the story to help make the setting come alive and draw the reader into the time period. However, be careful with how much historic detail you add to your story. Too much will make it read like a college mid-term instead of a sweeping saga. So, what happens when the research you need isn’t there? Well, it’s time to…

Think outside the box: Depending on what time period you’re dealing with, you may or may not have a wealth of information to draw from. When I was researching ancient Rome, there was an almost endless list of books available on the subject. I’m currently researching ancient Egypt, and despite the vast amount of information on their funerary practices, knowledge of their daily lives is sketchy. Instead of relying on traditional books, I’m searching through different sources including classical authors, podcasts from modern Egyptologists, and papers from very early Egyptologists to try and extract information. Public domain books available free on Amazon are a great place to pick up research that is off the beaten path. It’s time consuming but worth it, even though at some point I’m going to have to…

Know when to say when: Research can be fun. It can help you outline your story or navigate a tricky plot point. However, it can also distract from writing. There is no end to the research available or the hours you can dedicate to it. It’s an important part of the process, but so is sitting down and getting words on paper. So, don’t be afraid to put your research aside and start writing, because the great thing about research is, you can access it any time and you can always do more.

Thank you everyone for stopping by and a special thanks to Jennifer for having me here today.

Bio

A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.

Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Avalon Books. Mask of the Gladiator, a novella of ancient Rome is now available from Carina Press. Look for her novel of love in the golden age of Hollywood from Avalon Books in 2012.

When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit  www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.

Social Media Links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Georgie-Lee/1118655216

Twitter: @GeorgieLeeBooks

Buy Links

Mask of the Gladiator – http://ebooks.carinapress.com/1C1CE451-9420-4E12-8657-AE8CE6C6F330/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=561AB37C-9999-418D-A4DB-219BD27E7D11

16 Responses to MuseTracks Guest – Georgie Lee – Tackling Your Research

  1. Thanks! These are great ideas for authors who want to write about something they are not all that familiar with. I did research for my latest historical setting AFTER visiting Fort Sumter with my husband for his birthday. After the idea sprang up to set a story there, I hit the internet, books, and relied on photos I had shot at the fort. Research can be lots of fun!

    Like

  2. jbrayweber says:

    I envy you, Nancy. I want to visit Fort Sumter. I have several short stories set during the Civil War. Setting foot on battleground soil would be an experience.

    And I agree. Research can be so much fun! Thanks for stopping by!

    Like

  3. Terrific ideas for research!
    I love to research items for my book- must be the teacher in me. I’m surprised the CIA and other agencies haven’t come knocking on my door because my research list includes chemical warfare, extremist groups, terrorism, biological warfare and nuclear weapons!! I also like to make my research as 3 dimensional as possible so I cook foods, listen to music or call to prayer etc. from the countries where my stories take place. …not sure what’s more fun- the research or the writing!! Thanks for stopping by today to share your knowledge.

    Like

  4. jbrayweber says:

    I want to be there when they come for you, Stacey. You know…for research. So I can say I know what a real take down is like. HAHAHA!

    Like

  5. Georgie Lee says:

    Nancy, I love the Civil War era too and one of these days, I’m going to write about it. I’ve been to a number of battlefields and other historic sites. I know someday I will kick myself for not taking better notes. Thanks goodness for the internet!

    Stacey, if the CIA does come knocking at your door because of your research, it’ll be quite a different research opportunity 🙂

    Like

  6. Georgie,
    Great primer on research! I loved Mask of the Gladiator and can’t wait to read your Ancient Egypt story.

    Like

  7. jbrayweber says:

    Georgie is spot on with her research, right, Melissa? Thanks for stopping by.

    Like

  8. Good post on research! Since my Ancient Egyptian stories take a paranormal flair, I do the research first to have a solid grounding for the action (and also because I love research! LOL).

    Like

  9. jbrayweber says:

    I love research, too, Veronica. Sometimes I get sidetracked in the middle of a story, chapter, paragraph, sentence, when I need to look something up. That can be dangerous, as I’ll waste loads of time – and loving it.

    Thanks for popping in!

    Like

  10. L.W.Rogers says:

    Great post. I’m a research junkie. I often find myself getting caught up in reading the research. I use ‘One Note’ to save the clips that I use because I’ve had a couple of editors question historical information in my novels. One Note is my back up for proof that I didn’t make ‘this’ stuff up. Happy Researching.

    Like

  11. jbrayweber says:

    Ooh, what a great idea, L.W. One Note might be easier than having to look back at my physical notes.
    Thanks for coming by.

    Like

  12. Georgie Lee says:

    Thanks Melissa and Veronica for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the story Melissa!
    L.W brings up a good point about saving research. I’ve also had to use my research notes to answer editor questions about history and sometimes just to fact check myself.

    Like

  13. I love the research – almost too much. Fortunately since I taught American History and Western Civ at the college level, most of my reserch was for what they’re wearing, transportation, the landscape then, etc. I do keep track of where I found which information, but really like not having to do footnotes. I do put author’s notes at the end of each story saying what I’ve changed/altered.

    Like

  14. jbrayweber says:

    Teaching at the college level offers you a chance to really ‘teach’. I had wanted to teach college history. But I dropped out of college while pursuing my bachelors after a creative writing professor told me I should write a novel. 🙂

    Thanks for popping in, Terry!

    Like

  15. I used to get lost in the library for hours researching and I’d always get distracted. Right now, I’m trying not to make my WIP sound like a travel log while my characters make their way from Venice to Nancy.

    Great post.

    Like

  16. jbrayweber says:

    I’d love to get lost in the library doing research. I only I could…
    Thanks for popping in, Ella!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: