Writing fiction has some advantages—whatever you don’t know, you have the option to make-up. However, when writing historical fiction that doesn’t always apply.
Research can be rewarding, educating, and exciting. But, it can also be tedious, time consuming, and a lot of work.
For the non-fiction authors, research is unavoidable. Even when writing an autobiography, you will need to research for minor details.
My first novel was about a secret military for hire. I had to study the terminology, training, and early usages of performance-enhancing drugs. My journey of research led me to several armies throughout history, and the strategies of combat. It was fascinating.
In my second book, the trail of research went cold. I could not find anything (at that time) pertaining to the Samburu tribe of Africa. I purposely chose this particular tribe because of their many attributes coincided with my story. Finally, I found a pamphlet through the Smithsonian Institute. A man, who lived with the Samburu tribe for over 15 years, wrote it. The pamphlet answered many questions, but when other problems arose I had to make comparisons with another well-known tribe. I spent four solid months of research alone before writing the novel.
The Sphere of Archimedes required some research on physics, history, and various locations.
My latest (soon-to-be) novel The Omphalos of Delphi has superseded any of my previous stories. Studying Roman, Greek, and Assyrian history, learning about different lands, and tracing an actual sphere throughout time has been more challenging. The story starts off in Greenland, so I had to study all about the terrain, equipment, even specific breeds of huskies. I did extensive research on sledding, survival in frigid climates, and several scientific research stations based in Greenland. It became exhausting! Then my characters travel to Ireland and Poland. I diligently investigated each location. I will admit that this project grew overwhelming in research; I had to step away for a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, I love research and think it is important to drive the story home. Adding true facts can “WOW!” a reader, even when writing science fiction or fantasy. To me, it makes the story more tangible. However, if you over-indulge in research, it may cause you to give up. And we don’t want that, do we?