Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Writer’s Life: Research & Reading

It’s been exactly one week since I jumped on board with A Round of Words in 80 Days, and so far, things look pretty good, despite a couple notable frustrations. Here, a quick review of my goals and an update on my progress in each area.

Image Source: A Round of Words in 80 Days
1) Consistently write at least 2-3 High Heels & Flip-Flops blog posts each week.

Not only did I stay on track by writing three new blog posts last week, including my ROW80 update, but I’m also on track to publish another three this week. It definitely feels great to blog regularly again, and although I do miss the days when my schedule allowed me to post five times a week, I’ll do what I can for the time being.

2) Finish reading at least 1-2 novelist advice books to help refine my technique and focus.

Success! Last week, with an incredibly light class reading schedule, I managed to complete Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and am continuing to make good progress on The Successful Novelist by David Morrell. For those just getting started creating a work of fiction, I strongly recommend Story Structure Architect as a great way to familiarize yourself with the master plot structures and dramatic situations commonly explored. This book is a fabulous resource I will surely keep close at hand as I write.

3) Complete the remaining historical research necessary to flush out my plotlines and ensure their accuracy.

Even though I did make progress with my research, I also managed to frustrate myself, since lately it seems that with every key question I manage to answer, another 10 pop up in its wake, each more detailed and specific than the last. Though I know it’s ultimately helpful to consider things on such a minute level, the time and effort I’m putting into these findings – time I’m not spending actually writing the novel itself – often makes me question whether I truly have the expertise necessary to write about this particular time period at all. 

And while my romance/drama certainly isn’t intended to double as the ultimate historical guide to the time in question, it’s sometimes difficult to gauge whether my research efforts have been satisfactory or still need further development. All in all, I feel I could spend months or years simply doing more historical research without uncovering everything that might possibly add more detail and depth to the story. Sigh... 

Image Source:
4) Complete 50 pages of solid opening content by the March 22 deadline.

Given the frustrations mentioned above, the past week hasn’t included much progress when it comes to writing story content itself, but I’m hoping to pick up the pace again over the next few days. Special thanks to ROW80 member and blog friend Ghenet Myrthil, who’s encouraged me to fight the desire to revise as I go along and instead just focus on getting a rough draft of the story down on paper. Though the editor in me at times struggles to rebel, I know she’s 100 percent right, and I’m going to try my best to take her advice to heart as I continue.

Have you ever written historical fiction, and if so, do you have any helpful guidelines to share regarding research and how to avoid getting indefinitely bogged down during this stage?  


  1. Sounds like you're doing a great job! I've never written a novel, but I'm sure it's a huge undertaking and that you will benefit from going slow. I love reading historical fiction - I have no advice re: your research, but perhaps it would help to focus on your characters and perform extensive research on the historical topic as you need to in order to enhance your plot?

  2. Hey, I do have an idea today:
    What if you were to just write and write and write like Ghenet says and then read it from a reader's perspective.
    What historical bits make you go hmm? Do you want to know more about certain facets of info? Are some parts fine just the way they are?
    Sometimes we get so stuck in "writer" or "blogger" or "drawing" mode that we can't see the forest for the trees and we get too hard on ourselves! Keep it up rockstar!

  3. Don't let the research pull you down. If you need it, you need it. Don't feel bad. Writing isn't always about writing. Research is a necessary evil. You're doing better than you think.

  4. I love writing and it's awesome to see your process and the discipline that you're applying to the process - best of luck and I think you're doing great so far :)

  5. You go girl!! I wish I took writing more seriously!

  6. No, I have never attempted to write Fiction, period! And definitely not historical fiction, although I did read a lot of historical fiction when I was younger!

    It sounds like you are doing great!

  7. I'm glad my advice was helpful. I had a hard time ignoring my inner editor when I was finishing my first draft, but I'm SO glad I ultimately did. It's a lot easier to revise and fix things once you have something on the page.

    I'll have to check out those two writing books. They sound great, and I'm always looking for new ones!

  8. I haven't ever written historical fiction, but I just wanted to say, "way to go," on sticking with your goals. Sounds like you are on the right track.


  9. You're doing great! Research takes time, but it's well worth the effort. All progress counts.--Yolanda Early

  10. YIKES...I've never written a historical fiction but I think u may want to tweet this and you'll get some responses.

  11. I love the title of your blog! It looks like you're doing great thus far. Even with contemporary fiction, I have found myself spending a lot more time researching than I originally expected. (I write mysteries some.) In the end, however, the detail makes such novels come alive and provides a great foundation for your main story. Best wishes getting time to write! I'm sure you're itching to get more on the page.

  12. Hi I read your goal of reading at least two novelist advice books. If I could I would suggest the following:

    Writer's Journey Mythic Structure-
    not a novelist per say but it is a great book I rely on heavily

    Stephen King on Writing: really worth the read

    Off the Page By: Carole Burns- Really really worth the read! ://


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