You may write contemporary fiction. You may write historical adventure. You may even write romance – in any of its forms. What all of these options have in common is – research! You cannot contain all you need to know in your brain so – whether internet, library, bookshop, friend’s bookcases – you have to go somewhere to find out what you need to know.

In my case, one area of particular interest to me is 18th Century France and Scotland. So – with this in mind – I am preparing a list of the books I consulted while writing The Wolf of Dalriada and which I will post on this website in due course.

However, here are a few pointers for your own research. Go-to sources include:

  • visiting locations
  • libraries for government reports and documents
  • contemporary newspaper archives
  • diaries
  • maps
  • fashion plates
  • recipes
  • laws
  • medical papers and practices
  • essays on contemporary social conditions such as prison
  • biographies and memoirs

But make notes as you go. it’ll save you an afternoon searching for that one particular fact.

And, when you have imbued yourself with the period and you begin to write your story, remember to stick to the plot. You may find all sorts of facts fascinating but, if they care about anything at all, your reader will quite simply want to know what is going to happen to your characters. That is not denigrating the ‘setting’ – time and place. It is simply controlling these story elements in a role subservient to the story.  You are after all telling a story. Not educating the reader!

An old road in Paris

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