Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It

Today, Crystal Caudill is sharing her ideas on researching stories. So let’s get started!

Research. You either dread it or love it. Regardless of your sentiment, as a diligent writer, you have to do it and do it right. Whether new at the researching game or old hat, it is my prayer that this post will give you a little bit of guidance, a few resources, and a “whole lotta” inspiration.

I will be tackling this from the historical fiction angle, but anything written here can be applied to any genre’s research needs.

Where do I start researching?

Think of the act of researching as similar to drawing a tornado—you start with wide broad spirals that narrow down to a very focused point the closer you get to the ground, or in this case, your story.

With this in mind, I recommend starting wide and shallow before you ever write the first word of your story. Get a feel for what the politics, economy, culture, major events, fashion, etiquette, industries, technology, and social constructs were like for the setting of your story. These could have potentially content-altering information that can cripple a story if you find out too late.

Honestly, my favorite way to get a broad overview is to find children’s history books on the topics. They often have lots of interesting tidbits while giving you a broad sense of what is going on. It also helps to guide you in to more narrow and deeper research.

Once you have a general understanding of the times, then you can really narrow in on the specifics of your character and situation. Below I’ve listed some topics for consideration and some guiding questions to help you determine what is going to matter most to your character.

Major Topics for Consideration:

Each story is going to have unique needs, so you need to gauge your research based on those needs. If your story isn’t going to have a huge political influence, stop researching politics after you have a general feel for your story’s need. If your story has a rich socialite and a poor man, you are going to need to know the intricacies of upper-class society’s expectations and how they differ from someone who has never experienced it. I think you probably get the idea. 😉

Politics: What major political events were going on during the setting of your story? How might they affect your characters? Most of us don’t live in a bubble, and what is going on in the world filters into our lives and our discussions. Take that into consideration to be sure that there isn’t something that would greatly impact your story’s plot.

For example, if you have your character’s father the owner of a railroad during the railroad strikes, that is going to affect your character in at least some manner. If your heroine lives during the era of growing awareness of women’s rights (a much longer period than you might realize), how will that influence what your character believes, thinks, and says?

Culture: This means looking at the region and locale of your story. What foods, activities, and sayings are common to that area? Are there certain expectations that aren’t included elsewhere? Do they have certain fashions? Are there certain people groups common to that area which would influence the culture of that city?

Cincinnati is heavily German. When I moved here, I experience lots of new-to-me foods, building styles, and a TON of Catholic schools. There were two for the area I’d grown up in. Do your research and you’ll be surprised about what will really add richness to your story.

Economics and Social Status: Different social classes have different expectations and behaviors. How are those going to affect your character? What obstacles will that create? Consider the careers they would be likely to have. What industry do your characters rely on? What is going on in those industries which could affect their lives? The more you know about these things, the stronger your story will be.

When researching my manuscript Counterfeit Love, I discovered there was a “Long Depression” lasting from 1873 to 1896. At the time, they called it the “Great Depression.” What I learned changed and set the baseline for the struggles my heroine faced, even though I never directly connected the two for my reader.

Join us next month for part two!

About the Author

Crystal Caudill is a tea-drinking, book-hoarding, history nerd. Her parents had no idea what a monster they were creating when they took her to her first history museum. From that moment on she has been researching and crafting stories filled with danger, love, and history. She enjoys her Kentucky life as a wife, mother of two crazy boys, and caretaker. You can join Crystal on her writing journey or peruse her book reviews at www.crystalcaudill.com.

Research. You either dread it or love it. Regardless of your sentiment, as a diligent #writer, you have to do it and do it right. @CCaudillWrites via @GailJohnson87 #writingtips

Whispering Hope

Written in 1868 by Septimus Winner, aka Alice Hawthorne, Whispering Hope has offered hope to many in their darkest hours.

This year has held many dark moments for individuals, families, and nations. More than ever, we need hope. We need the Lord to shine upon our situations.

Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee (Psalm 33:22).

The Song

Soft as the voice of an angel, Breathing a lesson unheard, Hope with a gentle persuasion Whispers her comforting word: Wait till the darkness is over, Wait till the tempest is done, Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, O how welcome thy voice, Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight, Dim be the region afar, Will not the deepening darkness Brighten the glimmering star? Then when the night is upon us, Why should the heart sink away? When the dark midnight is over, Watch for the breaking of day.

Hope as an anchor so steadfast, Rends the dark veil for the soul, Whither the Master has entered, Robbing the grave of its goal; Come then, O come glad fruition, Come to my sad, weary heart; Come, O Thou blest hope of glory, Never, O never depart.

Whispering Hope Public Domain 1868

May hope fill our hearts and minds as we look to the Lord!  

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Jodie Wolfe

Welcome to Women of Faith and Fiction. Readers, if you haven’t read Jodie Wolfe’s latest, you are in for a treat! Let’s get started.

Who is Jodie Wolfe?

Hi! I’m Jodie, my husband and I have been married for 32 years and have two grown sons who are married, giving us six grandchildren from the ages of 7 down to three months old.

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m likely reading, knitting, or spending time with my best friend, my husband.

Jodie, you are a blessed woman. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, since I was in grade school and wrote my first story. I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

I’m so glad you followed through with that dream! From where does your inspiration come?

Most definitely from the Lord. I pray before I sit down to write, and as I’m writing. Then again when the book is sent out to a publisher, when it goes through the editing process, when it’s actually released.

I believe it shows in your writing. 😊 Tell us about your latest book baby.

My latest book is Taming Julia. Here’s the back cover copy:

In 1875, Kansas bachelor Drew Montgomery’s sole desire is to serve God, but his congregation’s ultimatum that he marry or leave, forces him to advertise for a wife by proxy.

Jules Walker strides into Drew’s life wearing breeches and toting a gun and saddle–more cowboy than bride. After years on the trail, she’s not exactly wife material, but she longs for home and family, and will do anything to ensure Drew never discovers what she really is.

I adored Taming Julia! Now, who is your all-time favorite character? This can be one of your own or another author’s character.

It would be a toss-up between Jules Montgomery, the heroine in my recent release and Laura Ingalls.

Julia is definitely one of my favorites. Please, tell us about your writing process.

I spend a bit of time researching the potential setting, time period, and developing my characters. I generally have a loose idea where the story will go, but often once I start writing, my characters develop a mind of their own and take the story the way they want it to go.

I can see where Julia would do that. LOL. Do you choose a word or a scripture for each year or each story?

Yes, each of my stories has a scripture that it revolves around. I find that I often learn a lot more about the verse in the process of writing the story.

Discovery is my favorite part of writing. Especially when it leaps off the page and smacks you in the face. 😊 What is your best marketing tip?

Once you finish the editing process, figure out different sentences from the story that you can use as tweetables. Also have some physical tie-in to an object that you can use for marketing. In my book, Love in the Seams, my heroine was a seamstress, so I was able to use sewing items as a giveaway during my launch party.

Great idea, Jodie. Thanks for sharing that. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Trust God’s timing and direction. He knows what’s best.

Last question. I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk. Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

Trust God and His timing. (Are you noticing a pattern? J) Sometimes we spend a long time praying about something and get discouraged when we don’t see any answers. I wrote Taming Julia over eight years ago, and I had a long wait before God brought the right publisher to accept it. I’m so thankful I didn’t give up year five, six, etc.

Jodie, I’m glad you didn’t either. It is a wonderful story. It would be a shame to have missed it. Thank you for preserving. And thank you for joining me and sharing more about you and Taming Julia.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.jodiewolfe.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jodie-wolfe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodieAWolfe

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/JodieAWolfe

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jodie-Wolfe/e/B01EAWOHXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Purchase Links:

Barnes and Noble Purchase Link

Pelican Book Group Purchase Link

Google Play Store Purchase Link

I wrote Taming Julia over eight years ago, and I had a long wait before God brought the right publisher to accept it. I’m so thankful I didn’t give up year five, six, etc. @JodieAWolfe @GailJohnson87 #interview #writerslife