Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Primary Documents Are A Must For Great Historical Writing

I see a lot of historical romances and historical women's fiction projects and far too many of these demonstrate to me the lack of research the authors did. The result is often a story that is lacking in depth and comes across as really being a flat and trivial read. It is a shame too, because the premise of many of these stories might have been really good, but the projects are brought down because of the lack of quality research.

I know there are a lot of "source books" out there that summarize a lot of history. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with these books to get a quick bit o information about a time period. In many ways, this is similar to going to sites such as Wikipedia, About.com or Answers.com. But these sources are far from strong enough to really give you the depth for your stories.

We are fortunate to be living in a great technological age where many primary sources are now being digitally scanned and available to the general public. These are the sources you need to be using to get an accurate picture of the time period of your story.

Bronwyn Scott has just finished up a great series about the Grand Tour and the rakes who take these
adventures. She stumbled across a great primary source of letters and journals written by these guys who took the trips. These are primary documents of people living in Venice, Florence and Sienna during that time. Talk about a great glimpse into the past!

This might seem like a lot of work, but it is amazing how that depth of research comes through in your writing. The voice of your story will change drastically. What is more important is that your readers will appreciate the work you put into it.

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