By Tema Banner
I love research. I think most historical fiction writers would agree, it is one of the fascinating adventures of the writer’s world. With each new fact we uncover, our stories can take twist and turns that we never imagined! The time period preferred by this historical writer is American Colonial, but God had other plans and I found myself writing Biblical fiction, in Old Testament times.
Writing in BCE has its’ own set of problems. The dates that events occurred varies depending on your source, names of cities and towns have changed, as has the flow of rivers. Even the facts of everyday life can be hidden in time. If, like me, you are a detail freak, it can become overwhelming. The desire for accuracy is always paramount in my mind. Why did God want me to write a story that I was unqualified to write? Every turn brought new questions that required deep searching and thorough studying to find and understand the answers. God has been gracious in giving me opportunities to attend the ACFW Conference and meet some of the authors in my genre. They have been instrumental in providing research tips and advice:
- Reach out to the appropriate departments of local colleges and universities. They are a fount of information and are willing to share with those who are interested. You may discover classes, seminars, and events that are available to you. Many also have newsletters available to anyone.
- Remember that Biblical time periods may be generalized, you don’t need a specific date. I get a little hung up on dates, and in my beginning research, this caused me a great of unnecessary stress.
- In some areas you may take poetic license, but always stick to the truth of God’s word. Many of the stories in the Bible give us just enough information, the individuals full life is rarely provided, sometimes all we have is a name. Their life story may be created by the author, but the part they play in the Bible, the understanding given to us by the Holy Spirit, cannot be changed.
- Become familiar with Google Earth – I’m still learning on this one, but in cases where we cannot travel to a specific location, it is an invaluable tool.
They have also encouraged me when I felt my lack of education was a hamper, reminding me that God gave the story to me and He would provide the ability.
Perhaps the greatest learn has been what God wanted to teach me on the journey. Pulling me deeper into the study of His word, providing the opportunity to travel to Israel and see the land where Jesus lived and preached, to gain a better understanding of the Jewish people, and to bring the Bible to life.
On my return home, His word grew move precious with each reading and I saw my story with new eyes. If you are struggling, as I often do, I hope this will encourage you. The dry bones of history come alive when it is His story we seek to share with those who are searching, and those who may need reminding of His great love.The dry bones of history come alive when it is His story we seek to share with those who are searching and those who may need reminding of His great love. @THBanner #ACFWBlogs #writetips #research #history Click To Tweet
Tema Banner is a member of the SC ACFW chapter as well as an active member of her local RWA chapter, Carolina Romance Writers. She has served as past President and Secretary as well as holding various chair positions. She is the honored recipient of the Harold Lowry Service Award, presented by the Carolina Romance Writers. God is her guiding light and the reason for every endeavor in her life. He has gifted her with a loving husband, two children (one here, one in heaven), and three grandchildren that are the delight of her life. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening.
I thought to write of a time
that had long fascinated me,
but through research, what did I find?
Folks who deserved no sympathy.
They really had a brutal streak,
especially with critters;
far from being what I’d seek,
I found myself quite bitter.
And so I rather felt a fool
for giving admiration
to culture I’d half-learned at school
Familiarity may not breed contempt,
but in this case, that is where it went.