Toothless Letter RResearch. All those hours on google or reading books, trying to find out facts that you can use or twist into your book.

All writers have done it, even if it is a quick google search for something. Why do we do it? Authenticity. It’s all very well creating a whole big world, but if you don’t have grain of truth and familiarity in there, then you’re likely to lose the reader.

I actually do a lot of my research on the second draft, or the first edit. Probably because I pants the first one, and if I really need to look something up I do a quick search and take the first result, making a note to come back later and double check things. Research does tend to interupt the flow of my writing. Maybe that’s why this editing is taking me so long.

What can you research? Anything really. Let’s take my current editing in progress – Mechanica Awakening.

The first thing I had to check when I came back to it was titles and proper forms of address. I’m dealing with nobility, or varying levels, so I need to know how someone would address a Duke in conversation, to their face, in reference. How does one address the children of a Duke? What is the actual hierarchy of nobility so that I can get the relative importance of various people’s positions right? How does someone with a military title fit into that hierarchy? I found this fantastic website for it, and now all I need to do is make sure that the forms of address are consistent through the book. Related to this there has also been a lot of research into coming of age in victorian society, since that forms a fair chunk of the plot for the first part of the book.

human head icons of science and gearsThe second thing I did was to go on google maps and take a long wonder around france. The novel is steampunk, so set in victorian like era’s, but rather I choose to go for more of a French influence in the setting. This includes names, such a Daphne, Esme and Rhydian, as well as places, La’vere, Reimess, Connaught to houses like Ariador and Terlais. Most of the places and houses are names that I have created, however, I’ve used a lot of symbols and letter combinations that you would find around France, by browsing the maps and then getting creative. I’ve also picked a town and used parts of it in the setting itself, for the home town of the main character, when I needed to describe an outing. I won’t say which one, but having a image of an actual french town hall and town helped me to build the visual imagery in my book.

What else. Oh, weapons. I’m familiar with swords, but I needed some research on guns that are appropriate to the setting, since one of my characters uses guns. This involved more browsing of steampunk boards and photo’s, since realistic guns aren’t quite in fitting with the theme I’m aiming for.

At one point they go to a scientific fair, so I’ve done a little research into what that would have been like in victorian times, since they were quite popular, and then just updated all the inventions to be in line with that of a steampunk level of technology. And looking up steampunk inventions as well to get some ideas. I’ll probably do more on this when I come to actually editing the scene.

Lots of pictures and examples of steampunk and victorian clothing are also in a file on my memory stick.

I am sure that there are other things that will need to be researched as I go along as well. But all of this is done to add a little something into my book, even if I only end up writing a line about it, it’s needs to feel real.

Anyone got any websites or other resources they find themselves using a lot?