On Research and Writing

I have a confession to make: I am a pantser.

That’s right. I never plan a book before writing it. I never know what the ending will be, or what the major point of conflict will end up as, or any other information beyond a main character and the very bare bones of a plot. This often leads to excessively long periods of writer’s block, but I honestly can’t help it.

researching your novel

I’ve recently begun working on a new book. I am exceptionally proud of it. I feel like it could be the one. You know that one book you feel will be the best book you ever write and has a higher chance of scoring you a publishing deal? Yes – that one. It’s still at the very first stages, and all I can reveal about it right now is that it’s (probably) going to be titled, “THE UNDERWATER LIBRARY”, and that it’s set in the 1930s, 40s and 50s… or to be more specific, pre- and post World War 2. As you might imagine, this means that it’s a bit grounded in the bloody history of that time period, and – yep, you guessed it – it also means it requires a whole freakin’ bunch of research.

And it’s frustrating.

I’ve never written anything like this. My storyverses are always fantastical or pretty much nondescript, so there was never the need to rely on any reference. But now I feel like I have to jump on the Google mobile every few sentences. What kind of hats did they wear? What kinds of cars did they drive? How did their bathrooms look like? How did their streets look like? How did they travel from one country to another? What kind of slang did they use? What kind of houses did they live in? And if that weren’t enough, I found myself having to brush up on my knowledge of both WW1 and WW2, which – to tell you the truth – isn’t that great to begin with.

Since my novel has an alternative history theme, it’s almost as if I’m writing fanfiction of the real world. Actually, it’s exactly like that. The “world”, key players, main events and settings are all there… and I’m just tossing in my own spin and hoping it sticks. It’s a dangerous thing, playing around with important historical events, so I’m just trying to be as faithful as possible to the original timeline so as not to upset any potential history buffs out there.

Not gonna lie, there were moments – particularly when I was researching the parts and mechanisms of old cars – where I wanted to throw caution to the wind and write whatever I damn please, but the perfectionist in me wouldn’t budge. I want to give this novel its due. I want to be able to present it to readers without any “if only’s” and “what if’s”. I want it to be as good as I’ve envisioned it to be. And so the research continues, no matter how stifling and constricting it may be.

Do you suffer with research as well? What was the weirdest thing you’ve had to look up? Could you suggest any good WW2 books for me?


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