Monday, July 13, 2009

Doing Historical Research for NaNo

Writing for NaNoWriMo is hard enough, and it gets even harder if you choose to do a historical fiction novel. True, you could prepare your novel well in advance by doing a lot of research, but as many historical fiction writers will tell you, you will encounter many difficulties while you write. If you're rushing to write 50,000 words in 30 days, how exactly are you going to maintain historical accuracy without going insane first?

There are a few ways that you can survive the onslaught of work. I've found that these work for me (and take it from me, I did three historical fiction novels for NaNoWriMo, and they were the most fun to write):

1.Don’t be afraid to use the forums! The NaNoWriMo forums are a great place to get information, and there is a forum section for historical fiction writers. You can ask experts to help you, and you can even ask the natives of a foreign country for more information on their countries of origin. Tap these resources. They're free! You have to be prepared to help out, too, so be as generous with your knowledge as possible.

2.Research is key: don’t scrimp on it. NaNoWriMo may force you to rush your work, but that doesn't mean that you should scrimp on quality research. Remember, historical facts and historical accuracy should not keep you from producing quality work; they should enhance and support your story, too.

3.Have books close by. You'll never know when you need to hit the books again and check out your facts.

4.Take down notes and keep them. Aside from having your books close to you, take down notes early on and refer to them when you're in doubt about something in your novel. Read your notes often so that you don't have to keep on referring to them.

5.Keep a journal. You'll never know when ideas will hit you. You'll never know when you might meet someone on your off-hours who could be a good reference for your work. Keep yourself open to new ideas.

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