Survivalist Skills, Research, NaNoWriMo

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day learning how to skin a rabbit and tan its hide. Yesterday I spent most of the morning learning about saltpeter – mining and leaching and how to turn it into explosives. The paranoid part of me worries that these survivalist skills will be noted by concerned government watchdogs. The winning part of me knows I need to know these skills if I am to write about them. Write what you know.

Now I must admit that I never actually skinned a rabbit, and I never actually mined for potassium nitrate, and I really ought to have been putting more words in my NaNoWriMo project, but I spent hours on the internet doing research – for my WIP (story). My story takes place in a pre-electricity fantasy world. There are cities, of course, and fortresses, and an agrarian culture, but what if I stuck my characters not in the city, nor working on a farm, which I have? The in between wilderness is where they need to survive, so I spend my days with bloodied and charcoaled hands, but not in reality as would be much, much better, but only in research. I do know the ultra-soft feel of rabbit fur and leather against my cheek, and I have walked through a saltpeter mine in Mammoth Cave, so I’m not flying completely blind on what I research or write about.

Writing Tip: Write what you know, but also prepare to spend many more hours in research for even the briefest reference in your book.

Now, back to writing for NaNoWriMo – I’m at a sloppy 15K now. (Whoo-hoo.) Only 35,000 more words to go by November 30th. Keep on writing!


The Trouble with Writing Historical Fiction

Literature Blogs

I’ve written several historical fiction stories. Here’s one major problem I’m finding which drives me nuts — conflicting facts.

Will someone PLEASE tell me how facts can conflict with each other?

Obviously, they don’t.  Some “facts,” like eye-witnesses of an accident, do indeed tend to conflict with the various accounts, each person certain that what they saw and tell is the truth. This is exactly why eye-witnesses aren’t used much in jury trials any more. Most unreliable.

I figure I have three choices to solving my problem: 1) research deeper; 2) avoid the subject in question; or 3) make something up.

Okay. I’m laughing like crazy at #3, which I won’t do, of course, but it still makes my eyes sparkle with the What-If possibilities. Then my story would no longer be historical fiction. It would simply be fiction. *sparkle* Oooo. The things you can do in fiction.

Okay, again. Back to seriousness… and digging deeper. (Sigh.)