I have been thinking about research lately. So much so, I almost feel as though I should capitalize and underline the word, as in “I have been thinking about Research lately.”
You see, I am at the stage in revisions for my current romance manuscript where I am looking for places where I need to do more world building or add historical details. Hence my dilemma. How much world building should I do? And how many historical details should I add?
I love reading a book by a good storyteller who can make me feel as though I am learning about a previous time and place while enjoying a great story. One or two authors come to mind who deftly add interesting details I never knew – and never knew I wanted to know.
However. There is a flip side. If the addition of details is not done well by the author, it can become tedious, or almost come across as a lecture. I do not want to be that writer!
Perhaps you can see where I am going with this. How many details should I add? And what types of details should they be? These questions tie back to my opening comment, since above all, I want to be accurate. What is the right type or amount of research I should do to get the right type or amount of details? It is all too easy to dive down a rabbit hole while researching something which, while interesting, is not germane to my story.
Last night and this morning were a good example. I wanted to know what breed of horse might be pulling a heavy wagon on an English road in my Georgian historical romance. So while I was at the bookstore last night, I cruised the bargain aisles for books about horses. I found two, so then had to decide which one to get. This morning, I spent time paging through the chosen book looking for a likely horse breed – only to decide later that it wasn’t necessary to be that specific. So while it gave me a chance to look at beautiful photos of horses, it wasn’t very productive in the end.
Perhaps I will toss the question out to you, my readers, for some input. If you were reading a romance which took place in England in the mid-1700s, what historical background or details or descriptions would you like to see included?
Any writer will tell you filling a blank page with the words of a first draft is hard. Luckily, I have found something I call a “creativity circle” which helps me push through.
It all started some months ago, when I was talking with a few romance writing friends about how we all stay motivated to write. One of the friends described for us a visualization exercise which included thinking of one of the chakra colors and then imagining a circle in that color on the ground in front of us. Once we could see that colored circle in our mind’s eye then we each stepping into our circle, where we could feel the energy and joy and warmth which comes to us when we write.
As luck would have it, I was looking at online crochet patterns a few weeks later, when I stumbled across one for a large cowl. This circular garment was large enough to fit around the model’s shoulders in one of the pictures.
Looking at that photo, I immediately thought of my circle in the visualization exercise. How wonderful would it be, I thought, if instead of an imaginary circle on the floor, I could have a real circle around my shoulders?
That quickly, “creativity circles” were born. I bought the pattern and some yarn in pretty shades of blue (the color of creative expression and communication), and over the next several nights, I made myself one of the cowls as I relaxed on the sofa.
Now, when I settle down in my writing space, one of the first things I do is to arrange my blue circle around my shoulders. It is like a form of muscle memory which helps to instantly put me into the necessary mindset for writing or editing. (And as a bonus, it also does a great job of keeping my shoulders warm.)
After I showed my creativity circle to this group of friends, they expressed interest in having their own. Here is a photo of one I crafted for a fellow author in the lovely shades of purple she picked out.
To me, my creativity circle is tangible proof of the way the various aspects of my life now intersect. My writing, my hobbies, my personal routine – even my well-known tendency to always feel cold – are all wrapped together by a bit of blue yarn. Which makes sense, I suppose. Writing is more than a job to me – it is something I have been passionate about for a long time. It isn’t really surprising then that it overlaps with the other facets of my life.
Do you have something in your life about which you are equally passionate? I hope so. If not, perhaps it is time for you to find that one thing which has the ability to fill all the corners of your life. Once you do, perhaps you will find your own creativity circle to bind it all together.
Those of you who are regular followers of my blog know I have been a bit… well… sporadic with it lately. I apologize for that, and I am using this blog to give you a quick recap of what has been going on lately to disrupt my routine.
First, the good news. A few months ago, our son and his wife informed us they are expecting their second child in June. What wonderful news!
This good news made my husband and I think about how hard it is to be a part of our grandchildren’s lives when they live a few states away. Our granddaughter is nearly 18 months old, and we have missed so much already. We have a chance, though, to enjoy some of those missed moments with the second baby.
So my husband and I have decided to move closer to our son and his family.
Our plan was to update our house before selling it and move later this summer. But do you recall the Burns’ quote about “the best laid schemes of mice and men”? That’s us. Once the word spread that we would be moving, people approached us who wanted to buy our house now. (I know we live in a very desirable area, and I personally love our house, but I didn’t expect this!)
So, the last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. There was a lot of starting-and-stopping going on. We started talking to a contractor about our remodeling project, and then stopped when the first person approached us. And then once the first showing was scheduled, I started cleaning the whole house like mad, and didn’t stop until the couple pulled in the drive. We did this a couple of times. I am glad it didn’t go on longer.
To cap off all of the madness, we also had a fairly severe medical issue to deal with. My husband got some flecks of rust in his eye (don’t ask!) which caused some damage. This meant several visits to a specialist and daily treatment to clear up the injury to his cornea. Dealing with an eye injury at the same time as selling the house really amped up the stress level.
Where are we at now? My husband’s eye seems to be nearly healed. And we have an offer to buy our house, no remodeling or real estate agents required. Better yet, the couple who wants our home is in no rush to move in, so we can still stay in the house a bit longer, as we had intended. Honestly, it all feels as though it is all part of a larger plan for us, the way things worked out.
Best of all, the reduction in stress has allowed me to get back into a writing mindset. In the previous weeks, even when I tried to write, I was too distracted to accomplish much. I am please to say that is no longer the case.
So, thank you for our patience while I was temporarily AWOL. I am back! I am resuming my weekly blog schedule, and will be a bit more active on social media as well. Keep an eye on my blogs/posts, and I will give you periodic updates on the new craziness in my world.
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.