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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

WRITING AWAY: RESEARCH

RESEARCH: One of the most time consuming and important activities of a historical fiction writer is research. Although we write 'fiction", getting the historical facts straight is of prime importance. If someone knowlegable (a historican or classical scholar) reads on page 10 that you are feeding your characters bread and there was no such thing at the time, you've shot your credibility down. Because I believe a historical fiction novel is meant not only to entertain, but to inform, I am usually meticulous with facts and details, and try to get everything as correct as possible, though at times one is allowed to take 'poetic license' and stretch the truth. This is 'fiction', after all!

The other week I took my friend on a tour of the ancient Agora here in Athens and I noted some errors I had made in the last chapter segments of my novel which were set in the agora and vicinity during 319-318 BC.

So yesterday I went on a research field trip to corrent those errors. This involved reading some historical notes which I found in the Blue Guide ( a very useful source for travellers). Then I made a note of exactly which places I needed to check on. I would not only take notes on site but would photograph various scenes to help place them visually.

I wrote a travel blog about this trip which you will find on my other blog site:
http://travelthroughhistory.com

It was a successful venture. I found all the state buildings I wanted to locate and even found the State Prison where Socrates was held for a time. In spite of many, many visits to the ancient agora I'd never been able to find the prison before. I also walked around the Hill of the Nymphs and the Hill of Muses and got the setting details, found the roads and gates where my characters would have walked, so when I do the editing on my work I'll have everything correct.

It's been a wonderful journey so far, mostly touring around, but for my last two weeks I'm grounded in Athens and hopefully will get some notes written for my novel as well as the many ideas I've gleaned for future travel stories. Read my travel blog, and you'll see!