Monday, November 22, 2010

Dangerous research

I’m writing an 18th-century romp at the moment, and I’m finding that the only thing more fun than writing sex-in-a-chemise is researching chemises (and other things). Granted, research has a way of sucking up my time, but it’s all for a purpose, right? The dishes can wait: I must know about morganatic marriages and antique iron strongboxes right now.

The funnest part so far has been in taste-testing drinks of the day: port, claret, Madeira, sherry. I thought about trying to get my hands on some laudanum, just to experience the loopiness for myself, but el hubby convinced me that I might get into some legal trouble. Boo.

At any rate, fun as it might be, there is also a danger in researching, and in writing in general: what if I get it wrong? I’ve seen so many decent books heckled over nitpicks: chocolate and tomatoes in pre-Colombian Europe, Regency ladies wearing knickers, inaccurate modern police procedure, incorrect forms of address for titled folks. Can a book recover from such a flaw? Can a writer move past a humiliation like having her red-shirt tertiary character bleed out from a paper cut or allowing her hero to hack an alien computer with a wholly inconceiveable operating system based on bubbles? *wibble*

Personally, as a reader, some of my favorite authors play a little fast and loose with the facts, and I don’t mind one bit. It’s their stories, their characters, that draw me in, and I’m willing to forgive them a lot of research oopsing. As a writer, though, I guess I’m not comfortable enough with my own skills yet to cut myself the same slack.

And the tension – as well as the pile of reference books – mounts. Think I need an absinthe and a bubble bath to get my muse back on track. Only, absinthe is 19th c. Noooo! Very well, will apply head to desk instead.

(Okay, this post was only partially an excuse to ogle Johnny Depp in the bath.)


Vivien Jackson writes erotica and erotica romance. This nibble was cross-posted to her Personal Blog. Her erotic stories are available on Paper Bag Pres.


Gem Sivad said...

I appreciate the thoughtful sharing of Johnny in his bath.*very much*
As for your "what if I get it wrong?" worry. I go through that angst every historical I write. But researching them is so much fun, I'm hooked.

Thanks Vivien.



Christa Paige said...

You so have that "research is a time-suck" thing right! I once spent hours upon hours looking up ship routes from England ports to Greece. Then, I had to figure out what kind of boats were doing that long of a sail during the 1819s as well as the length of time it took to go from the British port to the closest arrival in Greece. But, it is some of the smallest things that caused me the greatest research headaches, like meal procession hierarchy at balls, *groans*.
I give authors a wide-berth when it comes to research accuracy. But, I once read a contemporary novel by an extremely popular author and she got the title thing so wrong and kept calling her heroine this title with her unmarried last name, that I would continue to cringe each time I saw the honorific. Finally, I just gave up because that is something a Google search or a glance at Debretts should have made clear.
I'm now wondering if I could ask hubby about the laudanum, lol. Wonder if we can get around the illegal thing for research purposes?

Savanna Kougar said...

Vivien, Nothing like ogling Johnny Depp. Thanks!

Yeah, sometimes, the devil is in the details. And, I get lost in research because... well, it's just endlessly fascinating. I did a bit of research on Absinthe because it's always been alluring to me, though, I haven't tasted any. Yet.
Yeah, it was outlawed at one time. However, it's still available, plus ways to make it.

Careful on the laudanum, gals, since it's opium... though, it never should have been made illegal... just used responsibly. Everything natural has a good purpose.