Editor’s Note: This is cross-posted at Arcadia Coach, the new venture I am working on with Edward Branley. Hope to see you there!
Writing research for your manuscript is nothing like you remember having to do in school, when the teacher or professor assigned you a topic you weren’t interested in, or you just picked it to be near the girl or boy you had a crush on. For your manuscript, you get to control all the aspects of the story from scratch, but be sure that your research is spot on.
Readers are smart, they know when you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and send them down the misdirection path. Become an expert. Tell all your friends, family, and even strangers in the grocery store line all your useless knowledge you are picking up in the process. You want to be able to discuss with your readers that you meet all the little details, and enthrall them with the stories of how you went in that direction.
Today with the advent of the Internet and social media, it is easier to get information that is further away from your location, in the far nether-regions of the world. [If you can find it, so can your reader base!] From the comfort of your couch, your local watering hole, coffee shop, or public library, you can find anything you are wondering about. No more waiting weeks for the InterLibrary Loan to arrive to find out it wasn’t the right one; sifting through card catalogs (what’s that?- see below), and microfiche and microfilm for hours, days, or weeks. Carrying a hundred books home to find the one line you think you need, only to return 99 of them the next day. If you were lucky, the librarian took a liking to you, and put stuff on the side if you told her what you were looking for.
Devil is in the Details
Be careful in how and where you sprinkle the details throughout your manuscript since you don’t want it to read like a textbook; more like “the reader can visualize what is in your head”. Keep them remembering where things were in the story, don’t overload them with every tidbit you know on the subject on one page. Call back to the earlier times in the timeline and in the story in various parts of the book. A little detail can go a long way in completing your manuscript.
Think about all the little details, yes.. sweat the small stuff. Food blogs, architectural drawings, what clothes people were wearing, even what was happening in the news at the time, can affect your ability to make sure your reader is totally enmeshed in your novel / manuscript. You want it to be seamless.
Make sure your research is in the right time period, including cars, ships, horse & buggies, trolleys … you don’t want to say the first car started driving down the street in 1850, when the first car, the Benz Patent Motor Car, didn’t hit the street until New Year’s Eve 1879.
No question is too silly or wrong. If you have an interest in it, it is a spark that you can use to bring knowledge to someone else who has the same question.
Oh, and most important: Have fun!If you are not enjoying the process, then it will show in your writing. Let the writing research take you down various rabbit holes… be sure you have a ladder to get out though!
You may be saying, okay, the Book Doctor needs Coffee (you’d be right!). What is she talking about, and what does a manhole cover and hotel have to do with New Orleans?
I was doing some research for a GoNOLA article coming out on the New Orleans Public Service Inc (NOPSI) history and the current iteration of the NOPSI hotel that opened in June 2017. A couple of tidbits caught my eye, and since the GoNOLA article is more tourism-based than deep research, I had to post the extras of what I found here.
Did you know?
Back before full electricity, there was a city ordinance in New Orleans that everyone had to carry lanterns. Gas Lighting came to New Orleans in 1824 with James Caldwell and the American Theater.
Centrally located near the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, the 1920s-Jazz era NOPSI building that was tantamount for your electricity, transportation, and streetcar headquarters has been renovated to the NOPSI hotel at 317 Baronne Street.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, and was declared a historic landmark by the Historic District Landmarks Commission in 2011.
The hotel has aesthetic lines that are reminiscent of days past, with the building’s street facades, cast iron rails, and stone panels. The lobby counters are where the customers used to pay their bills.
And, coming full circle (Ed Note: ha!) the circular logo of the hotel is inspired by the manhole covers (look down) on the streets of Crescent City.
Collective nouns are names used to represent a group of people, animals, or things.
All animals collect into groups at some point in their lives. Be it for the social interaction, mating season, or herd immunity (groups of animals are harder to attack than solitary ones wandering by themselves).
These names reflect our love of linguistics, and can be traced back to the fifteenth century when they were first published in The Book of St. Albans (1486), in three parts on hawking, hunting, and heraldry.
A murder of crows
A congress of baboons
A tower of giraffes
A parliament of owls
A rafter of turkeys
A shrewdness of apes
A zeal of zebras
A crash of hippopotami
A congregation of alligators
A pride of lions
An unkindness of ravens
A blessing of unicorns
A clowder of cats
A flamboyance of flamingoes
A conspiracy of lemurs
A volt of vultures
An implausibility of gnus
A celebration of polar bears
A mob of meerkats
A kaleidoscope of butterflies
A knot of frogs
A prickle of porcupines
A smack of jellyfish
A romp of otters
A sleuth of bears
An ostentation of peacocks (Do you think this is where the word ‘ostentatious’ comes from?)