by Martha Rogers
One of my goals this year was to do more research and come up with more story ideas for both contemporary and historical novels. Research is fun and leads me into areas where I’ve never been before.
When the first novel in my new series, Love Stays True, releases this month, it will have the most extensive research ever in one of my novels. It all began with a few simple letters and some writings in a journal. The letters were to my great-grandmother from her father and from her suitor who later became my great-grandfather.
Those letters led me on a hunt to learn more about my ancestors. What I learned intrigued me to the point that I had to write Sallie and Manfred’s story. So I took what facts I had and wove them with fiction to relate the events leading up to their marriage in 1865.
Genealogy is fun, but it can become an obsession and very time consuming. One little clue leads to another discovery and then that leads you on another trail. It’s like a treasure hunt and the tidbits found are like diamonds shining in the sun, and that can lead to addiction.
Writing historical novels makes me what to “get it right.” So many times I’ve picked up a novel set in some past time period and gasp when I come across something that doesn’t sound right for that time, and it jerks me right out of the story. I have to laugh at some of the old westerns my husband loves to watch. Most of them never really give you a time period, but sometimes the fashions and references to events give the viewer an idea. Then things happen that make me wonder who was doing the research when episode was written.
Research will take you on a journey that may or may not snag your interest and lead you on side roads and down rabbit trails simply because you come across something interesting and want to follow up on it.
Whether fiction or non-fiction, research is the part of our writing we have to get right. If we don’t, be sure some expert is sure to spot the error and let us know about it. So much information is available to us today right at our fingertips, but we must remember that the internet isn’t infallible. That commercial with the young woman and man talking about the internet, and she believes just because she reads it on the internet, it’s true, is right on. Too many people believe just like the woman and end up getting it all wrong.
Those of us who research for information for our historical novels have learned to verify everything. It sure saves a lot of trouble and rewriting in the long run.
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and the author of the Winds Across the Prairie series as well as the novella, Key to Her Heart in River Walk Christmas. Her second series, Seasons of the Heart, is now available as is her Christmas novel, Christmas at Holly Hill. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009 and is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and attending football, baseball, and rugby games when one of the grandchildren is playing or performing.