In what era do your stories take place? When I started writing my 'Forever Love' series almost eleven years ago, I decided to take a trip back in time to the late 1980s. For me, it was a time of my life that held some of my happiest and most precious memories--college, making some great friends, meeting my husband, and getting married. Awesome music, awesome movies, awesome fashions (hey, I rocked those designer jeans, folks!)--I couldn't imagine a better time for my characters to live in. Most of the details poured into my manuscript were easily pulled from the corners of my mind. Not much research was necessary to keep things factual. Everything was perfect until....
I began working on Book 3.
Suddenly, I was faced with a dilemma. First, I had to decide--based on the cliffhanger ending of 'Waiting for Tomorrow'--whether or not my hero would survive his tragic situation. Second, regardless of which way I went, he would need to undergo at least a minimal amount of medical treatment. This time around, my memories of working as a medical receptionist weren't going to suffice. I had to figure out if what I was writing was true to the times. Would it be correct for him to have an MRI scan or be given Vicodin for his pain? (no, to both of those, by the way) Who would be responsible for notifying his family of his accident (or death)? And, most importantly, what sorts of injuries might he sustain, and how would they be treated? Whew! I was overwhelmed. I turned to the internet, but wasn't able to find everything I needed to know. I became frustrated. What could I do?
Fortunately, there's a happy ending to my story. God, in His infinite wisdom, led me to a friend who just happens to be an ER nurse at a local hospital. She had read my books and knew my hero's spot. After firing a barrage of questions her way, she was able to provide me with the answers I needed to factually and accurately move my story forward. All was right with the world once more!
The moral of the story: If you're writing about any era other than the present one, be sure to do your homework. Scan the internet, go to the library, talk to people who lived during that time. We all know a book full of grammatical errors is horrific enough, but a book full of inaccurate information is just as bad. You want your readers to see you as someone who goes all the way in making their work the best it can be. There's never an excuse for sloppy writing.
How do you research your book's era? Tell me in the comments!
Until next time...happy writing!