Blogs by Del Garrett
Back in the saddle
2/3/2013 3:42:55 PM
Coming back from the dead -- rededicating myself to the art of writing.
I was very sick in January 2012, but...I'm Baaackkkk!
I love history and historical fiction. I got the bug for it when I wrote WHISPERS IN THE WIND -- THE SEARCH FOR JACK THE RIPPER. I should probably mention that the only A-grades I got in college were History I and II.
If you are going to write about ANYTHING not set in the present day and time, you need to do research. Does that mean taking courses in school? No, not exactly. But a good history book would help. I expecially like to read old encyclopedia yearbooks because they catch you up on highlights of each year. Another useful tool for me are old magazines -- Life, National Gegraphic, etc., for the stories, but also for the ads. Your historical characters must look and dress the part and times change. Long sideburns in the 60s for rock and rollers and have you ever noticed, really noticed, teen girls' hairstyles in those Annette and Frankie beach movies?
In WHISPERS, I had to find out how much breakfast cost for my Victorian detective and where passenger ships sailed from and to between London and New York, also what was the weather typically like during the month of sailing.
Add drama to your stories by knowing what the area looked like - palmetto plants and rattlesnakes in the coastal plains of South Texas. Of course, "they" say write what you know and in the case of TEXAS JUSTICE, I grew up in those coastal plains and I lived in Austin for awhile. I found the oldest saloon in Austin and incorporated it into my story.
Old newspapers give you a feel for how people lived back in the day and the letters they wrote give you an idea of how people spoke back then.
Gathering historical material will help you write longer books, but don't just throw down lumps of data as an "information dump". Read top name writers, especially those who have written about the same period of time in which you base your story, and see how they work information into their dialog and narration.
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More Blogs by Del Garrett
Back in the saddle - Sunday, February 03, 2013
Lessons Learned: Library of Congress Catalog Number - Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Creating Primary and Secondary Characters - Sunday, August 14, 2011