Friday, August 19, 2016

Research and writing

Anne here. I'm asked a lot about research and writing. And I've become known over the years for historical accuracy in my period fiction.

At the same time, I've heard people criticize the use of research in fiction. I once sat silent and mortified during a writing workshop while members of the group told a writer that research wasn't the way to write a novel. The novel in question was about a girl in a Russian Jewish village pre-World War I. These helpful critics actually told the writer that research wasn't creative, etc. I thought this the worst possible type of criticism and advice.

The fact is you cannot write historical fiction or use historical settings if you don't do research, and research IS highly creative and inspiring. When you go into every day life in a bygone era, you turn up all sorts of details that can inspire new stories, new characters. You cannot help but wonder how a strong courageous person in a bygone era dealt with restrictive laws and situations that we don't have today.

Research can be fun, and it can even be addicting. And the bookshelves of the world are filled with great novels by those who took the time to do research as well as write to the best of their ability.

But the bottom line is this: as a writer, you do what is good for you, you follow your own obsessions, your passions, and you go with your enthusiasms. You dive into the research that sends you rushing to the keyboard to write a new story, create a new hero, set the stage for a new drama.

Why anyone would criticize research as anti-creative I cannot imagine. The Tale of Two Cities and War and Peace are both historical novels.

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