It doesn’t seem to matter what the task is, unless it’s something I’ve done before, research has to come first.
- Changing the needle on the sewing machine? Check the manual.
- Removing a stain from delicate fabric? Google my options.
- Bake a special dessert? Get out the cookbook.
- Refinish deck furniture? Find a YouTube video and follow the steps.
My current project — creating a family tree — has been a major research project. Once I made a start, I found lots of formerly unknown sources of information.
An old family bible provided pages of family births, deaths and marriages from the mid-1800s.
Other distant relatives had information to share, such as their discovery of an abandoned cemetery and lost family gravestones.
I’m accumulating details from birth, marriage and death registration certificates that, in addition to cause of death — a surprise to me — often included names and birthplaces of parents, residence at time of death, religious denomination, and occupation.
I mentioned in an earlier post my excitement over locating forty pages of my father-in-law’s WWI military service records. I’ve gleaned all sorts of interesting albeit irrelevant tidbits, like the name of the ships he sailed on between Canada and Europe.
It’s such seemingly irrelevant information that can make the research fascinating and bring an ancestor to life again.
For writers, it’s those details that can make our stories appealing to readers. The little bits of personal trivia that help readers ‘see’ the setting and get to ‘know’ the characters. They make the story more intimate, more meaningful.
I know this. I just have to remember to implement it in my writing!
What kind of research do you undertake in preparation for (or during) the writing of your stories?
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