Here’s the thing about the research bucket. It’s like Mary Poppins carpetbag–never really empty.
I said back here that, in my second draft, I want to be able to weave in a lot of the history I need for the story. So I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months doing the kind of research I need to get closer to the plot–checking out realities and possibilities. I dug far enough into things to be pretty sure that, yes, one of my characters can have an automobile; yes, another can have a job in the beauty industry; yes, my MC can be the daughter of an immigrant; yes, her little brother can play with toy trains. And I’ve been tossing ideas into my plot, based on those green lights.
This week, I’m starting to flesh out the plot and then, hopefully, to put things into a sequence that may, as a starting point, make sense. I’m using Scrivener and filling out scene cards with basic information–which characters are in the scene, where do they go and what do they do, what’s the main conflict and why…that stuff. And I’m also including a list of specific questions I need answers to…for that scene.
This 2nd draft is going to be a lot of stops and starts. (That’s okay…remember my word for 2011? Peace!)
Anyway, during my plotting sessions with Scrivener, I’ve already come up with way more than 5 things I’ll be researching. So for today’s post, just the tip of the iceberg.
1. In 1912, who were the kids that were still in high school? I know that a lot more kids were going to and finishing high school by this time, but there were still plenty having to quit to get jobs, to help out at home, or just because the family didn’t see a reason for them to be going on. I want to have some idea of what the mix was that were still there, in the classrooms, learning for…learning.
2. Did American Flyer sell accessories for their wind-up model trains? Would a “train kid” have little houses and depots and trees and cows? (Don’t laugh: some British train companies modified their models for sale in America by adding cow catchers to the front!) And what would those accessories be?
3. What specific automobile will Caro’s not-yet-maybe-never-boyfriend own? What did it look like, feel like, smell like? And how much trouble is he going to get into when they…Never mind. You’ll have to wait for that one.
4. What kind of injury, in 1912, would put someone at potential risk for death and, if they survived, leave the chance they wouldn’t walk again. I have a doctor friend who will be getting a LOT of questions, and then I’ll have to read up on this stuff in 1912. Oh, yeah, that’ll be fun.
5. What needle craft did German-Jewish immigrant women do–those of the age to come to American in the late 1800s? Knitting? Lace-making? Some kind of embroidery? This is one it would be very nice to have a time machine for–I’d just zip back to Berlin in those years and talk to some of my great-something-aunts. As it is…more reading!
Whether you’re working on a historical novel or not, what are some of the questions you’re wondering about for your WIP? Drop them in the comments–you never know when someone will have an answer. And if not, it’s fun to see some things we don’t have to hunt down ourselves!