This month I’m starting the preliminary research process for the sequel to my novel, and the plethora of major decisions that have to be made are overwhelming. Setting is paramount for me, in this case, because I want the sequel to amp up the exotic flair introduced in the first volume. But I don’t want to get in over my head by choosing a time period in history about which much has been written.
Although my novels are “historical” (and possibly “futuristic”) in the sense that they take place in other time periods, they are primarily character-driven, and so I want the focus to be on the people, not necessarily the historical events that take place around them. However, cultural milieu certainly plays a role in shaping and informing character, so I want to choose a frame that is conducive or perhaps catalyzing to the character arcs that will occur throughout the book.
Sometimes research makes me claustrophobic. I’m from the Stephen King school of thought on the subject of research: Just give me enough details so that I can lie colorfully. Doing historical research on a place can give you great insight into how the place will feel to your characters, but I’ve always had to draw a fine line between immersing myself enough in a place to produce authenticity while not allowing the factual details of a certain history to control my plotline.
I have always been drawn to the fantastic element in my longer projects for this reason. Facts can be stifling to the imagination. As can the laws of physics.
This is one of the beautiful things about writing a novel with a fantasy element. It only has to be internally consistent. It doesn’t have to make complete sense to a quantum physicist, or it would be an academic dissertation instead of a really good read.
Lie to me. Make me believe. These are the primary tenets of any relationship between reader and writer. You have to know when you know enough to cast your fictive spell without bogging the narrative down with too much historical detail, or worse, jarring your reader out of the spell with a clumsy anachronism.
Of all the places in the world, in all of recorded time, where do I want to go? Hmm…that is a tough one.Read More...