Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Guest Post: R.L. Jean on Historical Research

See the intro post for more information on this blog series! And don't forget - every commenter is included in a sweepstakes to win all three of our books - The Noble Pirates, The Soldier of Raetia, and The Pilgrim Glass!

This week, we get Rima's take on historical research.

The truth is, I'm not sure I have any tips or tricks for historical research. That is, other than "Wikipedia." I kid not when I say Wikipedia is a great starting point for any research. Note I said "starting point." It can lead you to some of the best resources on your chosen subject, no question.

The Internet as a whole is a great starting point for research. Once again, I say "starting point" because I just don't think there's any replacing getting elbow-deep in books. Another irreplaceable source: People. While writing The Noble Pirates, I contacted many experts on the subject I was researching -- historians, journalists, curators, and historical re-enactors. In this day and age, contacting key people on your subject is made easy with Twitter and personal blogs and Facebook.

I suppose the single most important tip I can offer on the subject is this: Remember, you are, after all, writing fiction. If you can't find a particular detail about a particular article of clothing, it's okay to make it up. I found myself struggling to put away the history books (and blogs) and just get carried away in the story. If you're a historian at heart, this can be downright painful (I MUST find out what material was used for the buckles of the shoes! I MUST!!) but can and should be done for the sake of the story. Don't lose the forest for the trees, folks.

Check out my post in Heather's blog and Heather's take in Rima's blog!

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