I write historical fiction. Mostly. That means I make up the story but the historical facts should be true. Sometimes I think I should turn my work into Fantasy so I don’t have to do the dreaded research. Or turn it into Science Fiction. Anything where I can use my imagination instead of the facts.
Facts can be hard to find, especially depending on the time period and place. For instance, I’m working on finishing my spy novel. It takes place in 1946, starting in Wurzburg, Germany, going to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and ending in Miami, Florida.
If I don’t use a street name or bar that really existed at that point in time, it’s not acceptable. At least not to me. If I don’t use the proper type of transportation, also not acceptable. If I’ve got someone flying on a plane that doesn’t exist yet, oops, not acceptable. And the timetable for flying from Rio to Miami better not be substantially faster or slower than it was then. Lots of “nots”!!!!
Right now my spy is deep in an underground cave in Brazil. I’ve got to get him out. The way he entered is no longer available. An explosion at the opening by ex-Nazis closed it. The ex-Nazis used the cave system to hide in and build a bomb. I plan to get my spy out by water because I read about water entrances into caves in Brazil and it sounded like an exciting way to do it. Of course, this means underwater gear needs to show up somehow and I need to describe how it works properly. In 1946 they didn’t have the same kind of underwater gear they have now. It’s been pretty tricky finding out the information I need.
My main searching is done on the web. I did try using the library once or twice, which was tedious and pretty much a waste of time. On the one hand, it’s great to have the web to do searches because it’s a time saver and there’s so much information out there. On the other hand, how do I know that what I find is true? Just because you read it on the web doesn’t mean it’s a fact. There are so many ways to get into pitfalls!
When I spend time researching, I often feel like I’m wasting time or marking time. I suppose I could make red comments in my manuscript where I need to fill in with fact and wait until the first draft is finished. Oh wait, I tried that and it was uncomfortable to leave things hanging and when I went back I didn’t have the same passion for getting the facts as when I was writing it fresh. Perhaps I need to find a way to regain the passion when I go back because at the rate my research is going, it’s hindering my time line for finishing the book.
If anyone has thoughts or suggestions, feel free.