I’ve been thinking about some of my problems doing research for historical fiction (whether set hundreds of years ago, or just a few decades back) because it’s always sort of irked me that I, someone studying history in a post-graduate setting, have so much trouble with writing period pieces that actually feel period-appropriate.
If you asked someone what it takes to write — or research — a good piece of historical fiction, they’d probably tell you that you need a detail-oriented mind, or at least strong attention to detail in your research. And I always feel like I’m pretty detail-oriented in my research, so why do I have so much trouble?
I think I finally figured it out. It’s because I’m too caught up in the details. I spend so long looking into one little thing that I miss the big picture. (The same applies to researching a location as the setting for a story. I’ll be so caught up in what the architecture should look like or what kind of trees grow there that I’ll miss big, basic stuff like the general lay of the land.)
Unfortunately, I haven’t the foggiest what to do about the problem. But I guess since I long ago decided that I didn’t even want to publish my writing, it probably doesn’t really matter. If no one’s gonna read it, it can be as inaccurate as I please. (Not that it pleases me to be inaccurate, but if I missed something in my initial research, then I’m probably not really aware that it’s inaccurate, right?)
This post has been pre-written last week, ’cause I’m busy working on my NaNo novel right now.