The Writer’s Eye: Virtues of Research


Most of this week I’ve been focusing on research I did when writing my upcoming release Only Marriage Will Do. I have loved doing research virtually all my life.

One of the happiest times of my life was the two summers I spent researching my dissertation in the Manuscript Reading Room of the National Library of Ireland, tracking down facts and corroborating evidence about the women who helped found the Abbey Theatre in the early years of the 20th century. I also made sojourns to the Library of Congress on a regular basis and went to New York City for a weekend to consult the papers of Lady Gregory at the New York Public Library.

Is there any wonder I became an historical romance author? Not only do I get to weave stories for my readers, but I get to indulge in research in a variety of periods.

However, writers of all genres must do research if they are to engage their fans and keep them deeply embedded in their story. Even contemporary and paranormal authors need to have a thorough grounding in the facts of the everyday activities they are writing about. Contemporary authors have to believe they are writing for that one reader who knows the exact subject touched on in their book. I once spent half a day researching the effect of rubber bullets and if they could injure a person enough to make them appear dead. (FYI: I wrote a few contemporary novellas before I switched to strictly writing historicals.) And for paranormal romances, whatever time period they are placed in, the author must be familiar with the settings, the mannerisms, the folklore that surrounds the paranormal experience they are describing.

I have run across a few historical authors who didn’t get something right, with the result that I was pulled completely out of the story and in a couple of instances didn’t really want to pick them back up again. I have therefore tried to be extremely careful in my research and usually also run things I’m still not quite sure of, especially having to do with titles and forms of address in the 19th century, past an expert.

Writers: How much research to you do for a book? Do you research every detail or do you take poetic license in some cases and make it up as you go along?

Readers: How much do you depend on authors to get the details right? Does it bother you a little or a lot when you read something you know is incorrect?

This entry was posted in On Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Writer’s Eye: Virtues of Research

  1. I’m envious of all the libraries you were able to use to conduct research! I try to do as much research as I can to create an authentic world. Usually, most of it never makes it to the story, but at least I learn something new right?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.