A Writer's Journey

September 29, 2011

Research

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 3:45 am
Tags: , , , , ,

If you read my “Fanfiction for Dummies” blog, I have a buzz word that constantly pops up. I call it a “pesky” word—and it’s “research.”

I love the old Angela Lansbury series “Murder She Wrote.” For those who haven’t seen it, Angela Lansbury plays Jessica “J.B.” Fletcher. After she is widowed and she retires as an English teacher, she writes a mystery novel for fun. Her nephew reads it and sends it to a publisher without her knowledge. The publisher loves it and Jessica becomes a famous writer. She still resides mostly in her hometown in Maine, before she traveled in later episodes. And this little town in Maine has a higher crime rate than Las Vegas.

When a murder happens, Jessica usually helps to solve it. And she uses her knowledge gained from writing her mystery books. How did she gain such knowledge? Research, which she constantly mentioned in the show. She is even seen in episodes doing research as well!

I know research is very important. I’ve learned that fact from my many years as a fan fiction writer. And I’ve seen mediocre stories that could be great stories if the author just did some research.

I’ve been doing research, for both my novels. But mostly for the second one I’ve started to write.

As a reminder, my first novel is set in a parallel medieval world of my own creation. So I don’t have to do much research on countries. My second novel, while it won’t be specifically stated in the manuscript, will be set in an alternate medieval England, mirroring the feudal system. But I do have to stick closer to medieval traditions.

I’m sure whoever looks at every search you do at Google was probably wondering why anyone was searching for medieval underwear. Why? Well, the novel opens with a funeral. My main character is in shock for the first ten pages. At one point, she stands behind a privacy screen in nothing but her underwear. In my research, I learned that very little is known about women’s underwear in the medieval period. They may have worn loin clothes, a form of modern boxers or nothing at all. So I wrote that she was wearing her hose.

In the chapter I’m writing now, my character pretends to faint to diffuse a tense situation. Unfortunately, she hurts her wrist when she goes down. So then I had to research medieval cures, namely herbal ones. And I discovered that rosemary is known to help with swelling and sprains. I had to look up what tincture is on the internet. (It’s when anything is mixed with alcohol in order to draw out and intensify the properties of the herbs).

Oh the things you learn on the internet! And I’m sure I’ll have to learn more as my writing progresses. Speaking of which—anyone know about medieval soldiery? Or any good sites/books about it? I’d really appreciate it.

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1 Comment »

  1. Regarding your question about soldiery…it varies from country to country. And Medieval period spanned nearly thousand years, so there were a lot of changes during the course of time, too. I cannot recommend a book, but how about History channel? They might be too bombastic, but they do in-depth reasearch on armies and even weapons in particular. National Geography and Discovery sometimes do history documentaries too.
    If you are interested in armour, or medieval clothing, I’ve bought Racinet’s History of Costume recently. It even goes into details such as headdresses and furniture. You can contact me via Refia or my e-mail.

    Comment by Amarth — September 29, 2011 @ 11:24 pm | Reply


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