Monday, April 6, 2015

Digging Deep into Storyworld

Ever wonder how an author gets her story world content?

It's true that over a lifetime of studying genealogy and digging through historical records and documents, I've gleaned a certain body of knowledge about the past. But is that enough when it comes to writing a story and creating a story world for the reader to jump into? Not really.

Writers are famous for being a bit afraid that if anyone read their Google searches, it could be mistaken for something pertaining to real life instead of fiction!

A sample of my writer friends's searches includes: lemon scone recipe, downtown Dallas districts, Nordstrom pumps, Krav Maga, pacemaker surgery. Also: assisted living jobs, ovarian cancer survival rates, North Carolina hurricanes 1980's, Carraba's menu, sunrise/sunset times, Jesse James murder, tarantula eyes, and sand burs. And: Gillian Anderson in the 1990's, Wellington Airport images, Hobbiton map, corn in Iowa, flights for Auckland to Des-Moines. (can't WAIT for those stories to hit the pages!) You can only imagine what kinds of things my murder mystery writing friend has on her search history.

Writing historical romance is less indicting, but still as fun for the historically addicted!

Every writer has to do research.The writer must immerse herself into the actual details and events of the time and the world she's writing about. There's nothing more intriguing than opening up an eye witness account of an historical event in Google books, or digging through an old journal and looking at old maps. Census records can yield old city names and great character names of the time period you are writing about. I might dig into sources like these:

A reprinted 1895 Catalogue

An 1887 copy of Dr. Chase's book for every home.

A copy of an original deed.

Character images.

Old maps. I love these!

And this gem: an article about a travel journal from 1842.

For the historical writer, research means digging for primary source information directly from the people or times we are writing about. And you all know that Erica loves to get some of her research from museums!

This week my Google search includes: definition of 'brogans', 1880 Census Wisconsin, Wisconsin Google Maps, forge billows, cowboys, Brule River, and Anson Mount. From there, I post ideas to Pinterest, keep a running bookmark list, and make hard copy files.

Then, after some great fun brainstorming and plotting sessions, I start staring out the window and let the words flow onto the page.

Have you ever been to a place that made you wish someone had written a story about it?
What topics, terms, items, or mementos have made you wonder about the stories attached to them?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary


  1. Good Morning Anne! I've wondered about the research behind the story. Thank you so much for this interesting post. I enjoy reading stories set in my home state of TEXAS. I also enjoy reading about exotic places that I might not be able to visit otherwise. ;) Have a great Monday.

    1. Morning Caryl! I've been to Texas, but it's been quite a few long years ago. Your state has a very rich history! You have a blessed week also! :)

  2. Ah, RESEARCH! I love, love, love it! Last week I googled The Childrens' Blizzard of 1888, Celtic Harps, a recipe for Rommegrot, and signs and treatments for frostbite. :)

    1. Oh, now I'll have to Google a few of those things too because you've got me curios!!

  3. I love research just as much, if not more, than writing! It's so much fun--but can get me in trouble. I'm often taken down little bunny-trails that have nothing to do with my story, however, I've gathered great story ideas this way. :)

    1. Too bad we don't live closer to each other. We could have a great research day together!

  4. Enjoyed your interesting post and learning more about the research part of writing, thank you!! Researching for a novel seems overwhelming to me, when do you find the time to write?? I fear I would be much like Gabrielle, going down "bunny-trails" and making the process much longer than necessary - especially with my OCD personality. I think there is a story to be found in EVERYTHING, large or small, if we look for it.

    1. Well, there is that. OCD. Yep. Hmm. Somehow I find time for it all. I think the trick is that the research spurs me on to write.


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