Welcome to The Research Secrets Workshop… The things you DON’T get to make up.
Whether you write Regency, Erotic Historical, Scottish Historical --Men in Kilts!!!—Western Historical, Werewolves, Vampires, Shapeshifters, Futuristics, or sexy science fiction romance, you must seduce your reader into suspending disbelief.
Readers generally like to be seduced, and to feel that their integrity and sensibilities are safe in their seducer’s skilled hands.
If you do your research into the things that can be researched (and the things a well-read reader might know), your readers will happily accept the things you make up.
Things to think about:
What factors most lend themselves to creating a real “feel” for the reader? (Such as clothing, furniture, landscape, architecture, social customs and attitudes, etc.)
Does this differ for the different genres/subgenres? What’s most important for your genre?
How important is “worldbuilding” to your genre?
When you’re reading in your genre, what are the clues that the author doesn’t “get it”? Things that make the book just a generic story that could have any setting, time period, or the like.
How do you convey the feel of being there?
Smells and sounds of a sword-fight, feel of being slung face-down across a saddle
The music of the period, for mood, how they felt about current events (esp war), morality
The authentic “voice”, dialect, idiom, slang…. the right words
What everyday tasks (in your “world) feel like
Rule of 3! Always verify a fact from three different sources.
Internet (a favorite and easy starting point)
The internet sometimes recycles the same (erroneous) information. Check back to make sure different sources are not from one primary source.
Books on Research
FIND IT FAST ISBN 0-06-273747-3 ROBERT I BERKMAN
(How to Uncover Expert Information on Any Subject Online or in Print)
A source is considered viable if you find the same information in three different places. Some very good materials are books from the 1960's.
Universities and university professors
For guidance on what to read in their speciality. for bibliographies at the end of their theses and papers. Universities language departments. Every relevant speciality.
Museums, Living History Sites, Curators, Stately Homes’ curators
NASA, Ask an Astronaut, Ask a Cop etc.
Find people who really do the job, or reenact the craft or trade
Military chat rooms, local recruitment officers, public affairs officers.
Jody Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Expertise: British Isles, Scotland in particular. BA in history.
Expert and advocate for sleep, sleep disorders, and also women's health.
(About.com and at Health Central.)
Dr Katrina Tipton (who writes as Isabo Kelly)
Consultation on animal behavior/species development, also background in ecology and evolution as well, so can help with environment development too.
SueL (writes as Becky Huffman)
Horse trainer, riding instructor and breeder, competitor in a variety of sports from long
distance (up to 100 miles in one day) cross county riding/racing to medieval and cowboy reenactment, experience using edged weapons on horseback, as well as guns.
Happy to chat about horses and answer the odd questions that are a little more difficult to google - like what it really feels like to be thrown belly-down over the saddle
(homepage) Becky Huffman www.TheOriginalSeries.com
Self Help Groups
Established authors’ websites
Authors’ Listmania lists on amazon.com
Patricia Wrede's Worldbuilding Questions--
World Building (Science Fiction Writing) Writer's Digest Books
by Stephen Gillett, Ben Bova
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 158297134X
The Writer's Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe
by George Ochoa, Jeffrey Osier
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 0898795362
The Physics of Star Trek - L. Krauss
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy - Orson Scott Card
Conceiving the Heavens- M. Scott
The Science of Star Wars- J. Cavelos
Aliens and Alien Societies - Stanley Schmidt
MAGAZINES: Scientific American, Discover Magazine
TV: Science Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic