Lots of Digging…

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, Friends of ACFW, research, tips, writing 1 Comment

by Kimberley Woodhouse

I’ve talked a lot about research on my blogs for ACFW before. But as an author, that’s a huge amount of what we do isn’t it?

I teach at a lot of writer’s conferences and groups about research and I get asked a lot of questions about it. How to streamline it… how to do it faster… how much do you really need to do? Etc. etc.

My answer is always the same: Don’t skimp on research. Take your time to do it and do it well.

Personally, I’m constantly learning new things. Especially as I’m researching a new story. It’s often very exciting. And sometimes research will spark another story all on its own. That’s the beauty of digging.

For instance, my April release, The Golden Bride, takes place during the 1849 gold rush in California. I’ve been to San Francisco many times. Have spoken there, visited friends there, been a tourist there, driven down the crazy zig-zag Lombard Street… etc. But what I discovered during my research for this story was fascinating.

What’s Underneath San Francisco’s Streets?

The answer actually blew my mind. Still does.

Every book I write, there’s at least one extremely interesting fact that makes me even more curious to dig around further. In the case of The Golden Bride, I was neck deep into researching San Francisco and the gold rush when I discovered just how much the city expanded its borders beyond the original God-made peninsula. In the back of my mind, I knew that I had heard or learned somewhere that the great Golden Gate city had built some of its streets on “landfill” but other than that? Yeah, that was the extent of my knowledge.

Then to discover this land growth all started because of the 1849 Gold Rush when hundreds upon hundreds of ships came into the harbor. Day in and day out, ships were stacked into the small bay and cove. Hordes of men were aboard all seeking their fortune, and then many of those ship were abandoned. Many might even be too tame a word. ?

Some of those ships were torn apart to build makeshift buildings, while others were used to basically “fill in” the bays with whatever else they could find, and the peninsula’s shoreline began to grow. To this day, there are quite a few ships underneath the streets of San Francisco. (Here’s a fascinating map from National Geographic: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/05/map-ships-buried-san-francisco/#/03-map-post-san-francisco-shipwreck.jpg )

Never would I have guessed last time I was in San Francisco that I was walking above ships from 1849. Talk about fascinating history! But it just goes to prove that I always have more to learn. Shouldn’t that always be our mindset as authors? To constantly be learning and growing? That’s what makes our stories special. Besides, none of us will ever have it all figured out.

If you’re fascinated by the notion of a city being built on landfill – check out this cool map from the Smithsonian where you can see the original shorelines compared to today. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-did-san-francisco-look-mid-1800s-180947904/

I hope you get a bit inspired today to keep digging. Keep researching. Keep writing.

Because everything we do should be done to the best of our ability for the Glory of God.

Thanks for stopping by today,


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Kimberley Woodhouse is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves the JOY of story. With more than twenty traditionally published books under her belt, she loves to share her heart and love of research with her readers. Kim and her incredible husband of almost thirty years have two adult children. She’s passionate about reading, music, cooking, and Bible study. You can connect with Kimberley on her website, Facebook, Instagram at kimberleywoodhouse and Twitter @kimwoodhouse.   



Comments 1

  1. We walk above the ghosts of yore;
    do they hear our tapping feet?
    Would they, could they dare implore
    that we listen, and entreat?
    They were people just like us,
    they lived and loved and died
    and we’ve thrown them under calendar’s bus,
    in our technobabble pride.
    They rise up through the sidewalk
    to watch their lost tomorrow
    and listen to our ungrateful talk
    and feel a killing sorrow.
    They left us wealth, ours to keep,
    and in our wastage, how they weep!

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