SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Historical research suggestions

Discussion started on

Well, I have the summer off, and I'm gearing up to start research for my first ever historical fiction. I would love some advice, tips, suggestions, whatever you have about the research process and organization. Notecards? Evernote? Print outs? Do you take notes as you read, or do you read and absorb first? Do you balance writing and research, or do one before the other? Can it mostly be done via library, or would I be much happier investing some money in buying some of the books I'll be using?

I'm sure as I get into it, I'll figure out what works best for me. But it would be nice to at least have some ideas to start with!

Thanks!
#1 - June 29, 2015, 05:08 PM
critically-yours.blogspot.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region iowa
I get books from interlibrary loan, and then buy a copy of ones that prove to be especially useful--then I read when I get my own copy, so I can underline throughout.

You can put those skinny stickies (that point to your spot) in a book as you read, and go back later and take notes.
 :goodluck
#2 - June 29, 2015, 05:28 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
Twitter: KatieWritesBks

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
It kind of depends on what era you're researching. Since I write 19th and early 20th century, I've accumulated quite a collection of magazines and newspapers from relevant years--lots of them appear on eBay for a few bucks each.

Also, what Katie said. ;)
#3 - June 29, 2015, 06:18 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
I also buy old books and movies from the period. Research papers. I don't begin writing until I have absorbed enough so that I don't have to look things up. Of course, there are details that slip my mind and then I have to look them up but I just put a LOOK THIS WHAT WAS PLAYING OR WHAT WAS WEATHER ON THIS NIGHT right in the manuscript unless it stops the flow of writing.

I put all my loose stuff like research notes, papers, maps, photos, etc. in a box so that they are accessible. I also have a dedicated notebook for each project. I've had to go back and put stickies all over my stuff to find things easily and in the future I will annotate facts as I write like I do my nonfiction.

Good luck. It's always so much fun diving into a new project.

Vijaya
#4 - June 29, 2015, 07:41 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida

Thanks so much for sharing your processes and thoughts. Really helpful!
#6 - June 30, 2015, 04:07 PM
critically-yours.blogspot.com

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
I've used index cards in the past, and also kept a notebook with detailed notes. (Although I never did finish the plays I was researching, so these might not be the best methods!) I did find it was more helpful to buy the books-- mainly because it takes me forever to actually get to my research before the books are due, and I like highlighting.

Are you familiar with Scrivner? I haven't used it for research, but I have used it for drafting-- but it might really work for research. It has a computerized version of index cards.

One of my dreams in life is to eventually write a historical mystery, so I am definitely following this thread!
#7 - June 30, 2015, 05:04 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI RA
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region cencal
I use an inexpensive plastic envelope-type folder with dividers and use it to file information I find.  I also keep a running bibliography on the sources I use. For books I run across that I might need in the future I create wish lists on Amazon and reading lists on my public library page so I can find them easily when I need them. 
#8 - June 30, 2015, 06:28 PM
Rebecca Langston-George
The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame & the Death of Lincoln
Capstone: September 1, 2017

Yes, love Scrivener. Not sure the note card feature is the best way to keep notes, but their ability to create folders within folders and many many files within those should help with the organization. But I like Rebecca's suggestion of a physical file folder, too. I am definitely worried about jumping back and forth between physical and digital notes and making sure everything is findable. Definitely planning on keeping a bibliograhy as I go.

Thank you!
#9 - July 01, 2015, 06:54 AM
critically-yours.blogspot.com

Chief Administrator
Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region inlandnw
Since some of my historical picture books were published as long as eleven years after I researched and wrote them, I found it absolutely essential to keep a running bibliography as I did my research. Also, I photocopied the title and copyright pages, as well as the more important pages within each book that had the info on them that I was using. Those pages got stapled together and put into my research folder. That way, I didn't need to keep the entire book for just a few paragraphs or pages of pertinent information and later, if my facts were challenged in the copyediting phase of publication, I didn't have to search through entire books to find the relevant information.

I did the same thing with info from the internet - copied and pasted the info directly from the websites. And I ONLY use accredited website info - historical archives, original diaries, etc. I am extremely cautious about using info from universities, because if it was posted by a student, you have no way of knowing how accurately - or from where - the students researched their facts!
#10 - July 01, 2015, 09:14 AM
Verla Kay

Blueboard Problems? Use the Contact A Moderator link in the menu at the top of the message board.

I also keep a running bibliography. I do this for all my books. Sometimes to get started on my research or get a feel for a period, I will watch period piece from that time period. (That way my entertainment doubles as "research.") I always double check what I see, but it's a good way to get a sense of fashions and/or manners, etc.

I do a lot of general research up front, usually just enough to allow me to write the story. Then I research as I write and I often do a bunch of research between drafts. Usually after the first draft, I know what things I still have questions about and/or need to double check on. Of course, there's a fact check at the final draft stage.

I usually use inter-library loan, but also purchase books if they are really good. I find it's handy to get them as ebooks if I can because of the notes feature on Kindle. For all other notes, I type them into a Word Document and organize them by topic. I used to write them out in notebooks when I wrote for magazines, but with my notes in Word I can use the find feature to look for a specific note.
#11 - July 01, 2015, 07:06 PM
twitter.com/enzor_jenni
jennienzor.blogspot.com

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.