How to Research Your Story Before Writing Your Book
by: Claire Charlins
I love western romance. I’ve always loved western romance books and even before that, when I was in grade school I loved anything about history. There’s just something the 1800’s that amazes me. The freedom the country was experiencing, travel west, becoming a nation. So much of the foundation of what we have and love today came from that time period. Of course, the time period features the Civil War, which actually plays a big role in the topics of some of my western romance books. A lot of men went to war and made their wives widows. And when these women wanted to marry or to have a family again… something like normal… the men were either dead or going west in hopes of finding more opportunity. The men who went west realized there weren’t enough women for them and soon began the idea of men writing east, hoping to find a bride.
The research has been amazing. It’s been so much fun and it’s something I truly care about. That’s the main part of the research. Make sure you’re writing about something you feel the passion for. Because when it comes time to research it doesn’t feel like work as much as it does like exploring. The word ‘research’ makes me think of college… forced to write and research topics for papers I had no interest in. It makes me shiver. But this kind of work… the nonfiction reading of life in the 1800’s… well, it’s exciting to me.
Now, aside from the feelings of it all, I go into my research with plenty of ink in the printer, a notebook, a highlighter, and a lot of books from either the library (yes, they exist and please, use them!) and from books I just have to buy. I read. I take notes. I find the parts that come back and help me. Then I start to let storylines form. Just like I would do in current day fiction, I start with people. Romance is simply about people. The setting comes next and that’s where the research helps. Even the smallest details can make or break a book.
Here’s an example… I read a book about a guy who managed to get out of his student loans by filing bankruptcy. It was set in current day and it bothered me because right now you can’t file bankruptcy and get out of student loan debt. That one little detail really got to me for the entire book. Maybe because I have student loan debt and it put that on my mind, I’m not sure. But when I research I try to make sure what I need and what I use are for the purpose of advancing the story. I’m not writing a history book… I’m writing a book that has pieces of history in it. There’s a difference. The research gives me the opportunity to create the proper time and setting for my characters to meet and fall in love.
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Genre – Western / Christian Romance
Rating – PG
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