I was writing with a friend of mine a couple weeks ago, and she was excitedly talking about all of the new research she had discovered to add to her early middle grade novel. She has been researching for at least a year (probably longer), sifting through interviews with Vietnam Vets, reading books and articles on the era, and most importantly, drawing from her own experiences.
I wish I could say that I have embraced the research component with as much enthusiasm. For me, I want to jump in the novel. I'll use as much prior knowledge that I've got in my brain (I'm pretty smart, after all), and get "most" of it right. Now I know, as you do, that it won't work. Research is a key component to writing (at least writing well). As I delve into a historical fiction novel that has been itching to come out, it DEMANDS that I research. As frustrating as it is, it has been an eye-opener. I realized I do not know near as much as I thought I did. I find myself reading about the food they would eat, their clothing, their marriage practices, the art of war, and on and on and on. I try to make myself write a page or two of the draft every day, but it has become difficult because after all that research I desire to "get it right."
Making your story believable and encapsulating within that era is an important ingredient to producing a well-done piece. As I read through my friend's manuscript I was sucked into the story line. The characters felt real and an integral part of that time period. Her research had added multiple layers to the conflicts, making it a page turner. I can't wait to see the book on store shelves!
Until then, I will keep researching for my own book, reminding myself that "getting it right" might be time-consuming and, at times, tedious, but the finished product will be a much more authentic story.
I'd love to hear from you!