Hellfire & Stratton: a Fool’s Game
by Paul Nieto
Soon to be released. Bookmark for updates.
I have discovered that researching the local history for your book makes the setting and world-building far more interesting than if I tried to fake it. You could also consider using your own my locality, as that may give it a more original flavor.
A pretty good book on the subject is “How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction” by Persia Woolley. Although it has a Copywrite of 1997 it is still a nice reference. I got mine used at Amazon. It used to be a library book, so that means you may find it at your local library.
One important thing that Persia Woolley mentions is how sloppy or lazy research can bring bad reviews.
She discussed traveling to places in England for her Guinevere Trilogy. She told how she spent extra time and money to get off the well-worn tourist paths to find things of real value. She recommends researching and writing to people before you leave. This allows you to make the most of your time, and of course, saving receipts for tax purposes.
Today’s world of the internet makes research easier, but sometimes you will need to visit historical societies and use emails and phone calls to get better information.
You may think you can fudge, but once again some of your readers will know the history and take great offense to shoddy research. The reaction may be so bad that they do not finish your book. Even worse, you could get a one-star review.
Woolley also delves into the usual, plot and dialog teachings but it is a good book for research ideas if you can borrow it or get a used copy. I found it a very good review and even got some new ideas. I admit, a lot is common sense, but the book was helpful and inspiring. If you are new to writing and want to do a historical novel, a book like this is a good start. Even if you have written, you can never learn too much.
After reading her book, I decided that for my 1800s story, why use London or New York? For one thing, London is rather cliché. I can do the historical research for my city at a fraction of the cost and time, including getting maps online from the local university. The maps even indicate the construction of the buildings, brick, stone, etc. It also shows the names of many of the businesses that existed at the time.
I can also visit the local museums and the historical society on weekends. I even found a historical society that helps support an old steam engine line that people can still ride. Although I am a local, I never knew it existed. That will make a fun Saturday and I don’t have to drive far.
Researching the local history will make your setting and world-building more accurate and interesting than trying to fake it. It could fend off some potentially harmful book reviews. Using a unique locality will give it a more original flavor.