Friday, April 13, 2007

Over at Deadline Divas yesterday they were talking about reference books, and it gave me an idea for a blog today (thanks, Divas!).

I have had a long-standing, love-hate relationship with reference/help books. On one hand, most of the ones I have read are filled with thoughtful, practical advice. On the other hand, I'd rather spend my reading time on fiction. On one hand, I know that reference is good for you (like eating your vegetables). On the other hand, it would be nice if the folks in reference world could make it a bit more palatable (like swapping the veg for dessert, say).

A standing "rule" of sorts for writers has always been to write about something that stirs your passion. Something you're really, really, really interested in. Well, I'd have to say honestly in terms of romance my hands down favorites are historicals. I love the escape into past times. The gowns and carriages and pageantry, the duels and scandals and witty exchanges. However my WIP is a contemporary. An unfinished, revised, reworked, replotted, reimagined contemporary.

Why? Just because research/reference is such a daunting process? Because I'm lazy? Afraid? Incompetent? All of the above? Do I just need a writerly kick in the behind? Is my WIP unfinished for these same reasons? I'd prefer not to think of myself as a chicken or a slacker, but there is definitely something about the reference process that makes me want to jump in my bed and hide under the covers. There's something about reference that makes me wish they'd come out with one book that explained everything, step by step. For example: If you're writing a regency, the gowns look like this (see illustration and key), there are three kinds of carriages, the heroine would never be named "heather", etc...

Writing isn't an easy process. Reference/research isn't easy either. But I suppose worrying over it and not doing it makes it even harder. (Hang on, I just told Son that the other day in regards to maths. I need to start listening to myself.)

1 Comment:

Robyn said...

Historicals are darned daunting, if only because I know that even though I spent two years in the 'musty old shelves' section of the library and only emerged for necessary nourishment, and even yakked with Old People in England Who Had Relatives Who Were Dukes, someone is going to write me a nasty letter telling me that any idiot knows that real aristocrats would have died before drinking Earl Grey. Or whatever tiny minute fact they'll obsess over.