Research Can Be Everything

One of the important things I’m finding in writing is research. It is very important to get things right when writing something in historical context. I’ve taken on the challenge of writing a Time Travel Romance which has been difficult, but so much more rewarding than doing a term paper. Because that’s what it’s felt like. It’s been like writing a term paper with some educated guesses. If I ask myself a question, I look up the plausible answer. But like any good fiction writer, if there is no definite answer, you make up the what if scenario. Filling in the gaps of history with educational guesses is a lot of fun.

My favorite corner in Montmarte.

My favorite corner in Montmarte.

Plus, travel research has been important. I love using my memories of visiting places in my stories. So, the settings for my current book are two of my favorite places in the world, Paris and London. Montmartre has a special place in my heart since I lived and went to school in Paris in the early 1990s. I loved hanging out there and imagining the impressionists or Hemingway sitting at a cafe. The corner I love the best, an intersection that Sacred Coeur can be seen in the distance, is used in movie after movie.

Of course, memories are an important tool for writing, especially if you’ve been to the setting. But what about a time period? Writing about 100 years ago, the internet is my savior. The amount of information and photos is amazing. Pictures of 1914 London come up after searches. I’ve studied them for descriptions realizing that I’d left out bicycles on the streets of London. Cars are more visible in places like Picadilly Circus, with outlying streets with more wagon traffic.

But then, I think the best finds have been traveling on vacation around California. I picked up a picture of Mary Pickford from one of her movies in 1924. It’s been a motivating piece to spur on my writing. Plus, Eureka had old fashioned cars from 1910-1915. Though they were all Fords, it was important to see what those classic cars had in the way of items people would have to deal with. Footboards, carriage lamps instead of headlamps, and even the height of the steering wheel can add to any description.

Classic Ford in a shop window in Eureka, Ca.

Classic Ford in a shop window in Eureka, Ca.

So, in the end, researching a book as you write it is exciting. But details can spring up anywhere. The internet is an important tool, but I always keep a look out while traveling. You never know what could be useful for the next book.

**Marilyn Vix is working on her debut Time Travel novel, “Everything For Love” which should be available in the Fall of 2013.

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