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