Thursday, January 7, 2010

How to research historical novels

Our own Michele Torrey has a great blog post about how she researches her historical novels, including pitfalls to avoid and sources to use. Here's the start:

As a writer of historical novels, I must conduct a lot of research. Over the years, I’ve become quite adept at finding what I need and separating the wheat from the chaff. Recently, I was asked some in-depth questions by a colleague regarding historical research. As they were common questions, I thought I’d share the Q&A for those of you who also struggle with research. Hopefully it will be helpful. If you still have questions, post them to me here and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

Remember, these are only my opinions. Have your grain of salt handy.

Q: My main question is what do you do when reliable sources disagree?

A: First of all, make certain that they ARE reliable sources. Are they experts in their field? Is it current scholarship? (Scholarship is much more objective than it used to be, with even more resources available to draw upon.) Is it a primary source? If two or more reliable sources disagree, and if you can’t find any kind of agreement out there as to who is right, then you can feel free to make your own decision as it suits your novel.

And here's the rest.

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