Saturday, November 05, 2011

Never dull

I do a lot of research before starting my manuscripts, but that doesn't stop me from stumbling over gaps in my knowledge while I'm in rough draft stage. Rather than letting them slow me down, I write bolded, all-caps notes to myself and keep going. My current work-in-progress's notes include:




The funny thing is, by the time I've learned enough about sheep to flesh out that paragraph, I bet I'll think sheep are fascinating. Maybe even almost as interesting as horses.

That's how it usually works for me. Before I started researching the War of 1812 as part of my current hero's backstory, I would've said it was nowhere near as interesting as the Napoleonic Wars. Now that I know more about it, well, it's messy and gripping and horrible, and it's just criminal how boring my high school history class made it sound.

Since I started writing historical romance, I've developed surprising interests in the flora and fauna of islands of the Indian Ocean (one of these days I'll finish that shipwreck story), the duties of footmen (I once had a hero go undercover as a servant, then decided it didn't work and rewrote those chapters), and the workings of the East India Company fleet. To name only a few. And my conclusion is that almost nothing is boring once you start to learn about it. Really, I think this Discovery Channel ad from a few years back sums up my attitude toward just about anything I've ever needed to research:

What about you? What topics that you thought were boring turned fascinating as soon as you knew anything about them?


Veronica Scott said...

I love research so I can't really say anything bored me before I got deep into it. Maybe hyenas? Never liked them much but needed some for a big chase scene. Now I respect them a bit more. My trouble is I get enough research done to write three term papers WITH footnotes and only really needed a snippet! Enjoyed your post, good luck w/sheep!

Wendy Soliman said...

I laughed at your reference to sheep. I had my heroine, in my very first regency, breeding Cheviot sheep. I learned more about the wretched beasts than I ever wanted to know. Then my editor made me cut most ofi t. Sigh!

Alyssa Everett said...
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Alyssa Everett said...
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Alyssa Everett said...

What worries me is things I don't know that I don't know, if that makes any sense. But I guess that's where my awesome CPs come in.

(I'm responsible for the two deleted comments above, btw. I know I'm having a bad day when I correct a spelling error with another spelling error.)

Susanna Fraser said...

Veronica, I get lost in my research sometimes, too. One of these days I'm going to go full-on Bernard Cornwell and write a military adventure story just so I can use all the tactics and weaponry information I've picked up writing army heroes in romance!

Wendy, I know I only need a few paragraphs to make it seem like the heroine knows how to raise sheep, without loading the reader down. I know I'm going to have to learn far more about sheep than I ever would've tried to discover on my own to pull it off, though.

Alyssa, I worry about the same thing. Most of the errors I know I've made have been things I didn't even realize I needed to look up.