|Meg Mims, author|
by Meg Mims
Copyright © 2012 Meg Mims
How easy is it to research? If you’re a diehard librarian or bookworm, it’s easy. Trawl the shelves, pore over bibliographies for even more sources—especially original sources such as diaries, letters, or books written in the past century. As a last resort, do a Google search for any details you may have missed.
But what if the idea of research is a four-letter word to you? What if you hate all that extra hard work? Ah, no big deal. Readers aren’t gonna know the difference, right?
Readers are savvy. They’ve watched PBS series. TV shows such as Sherlock Holmes, Downton Abby, Upstairs, Downstairs, Ken Burns’ Civil War series and other documentaries, plus they’ve read an extensive amount. They have an uncanny ability to sense when something’s ‘hinky’ – and that will throw them out of the story in two seconds flat. Sorry about the cliché, but it’s true. And the truth hurts.
Now I do love research. Give me a stack of books or photo-studded websites and I’m there with bells on! I can’t explain that wonderful “Aha!” feeling when I stumble over a really fabulous and authentic detail I can utilize in my books. Call me crazy. Call me an old-fashioned library hound. I got caught up in the research for the sequel to Double Crossing, in fact, and was sidetracked for weeks! That’s another problem with research. Writers can either “fudge” their way around the research, or get hopelessly bogged down and never finish the book.
Another key is to take the time and do the research rather than take the easy way out by skipping or skimping. The devil is in the details, after all.
Thanks to Jacquie Rogers for hosting me this week!
Check out the 25+ five-star reviews of Double Crossing on Amazon!
EXCERPT from Double or Nothing, my WIP,
the sequel to Double Crossing…
On higher ground, I saw two men holding hoses that spurted water at the high bank. Two others sprayed quicksilver over the sluice. It didn’t look like anything but dirty water. This entire trip had been a waste of time. Uncle Harrison hadn’t needed me to take part in decisions. He resented the questions I’d peppered the foreman with and ignored my opinions on how much damage the operation was to the countryside. Why had he dragged me here in the first place?
I should have stayed back in Sacramento. My sketchbook drawings of the things I’d seen during the journey on the train needed work. Etta had brought my watercolor supplies from Evanston, and many of my books too. But I didn’t want to read or paint. A deep melancholy robbed me of energy. I was as useless as a broken pencil or paintbrush.
I trudged toward the shack. The foreman held a large piece of paper between his hands while my uncle pointed at various sections. Two other men argued with them. I overheard their heated words, although most of it was technical jargon that sounded Chinese to me.
“—haven’t made headway,” said a man in a tailored suit. He wore a gold chain looped across his patterned waistcoat that glinted in the sun. “I say we dig out the ridge.”
“I agree with Alvarez. You take that ridge down and we’ll never get any equipment to the furthest point of the claim, over here,” my uncle said and prodded the map. “He knows this land better than you. And Nate agrees with him.”
The foreman nodded. “I do. It’s safer to go slow—”
“I’m the engineer. Are you implying I don’t know my business?”
“I’m saying it’s stupid to undermine that ridge!”
Good heavens. I reversed direction and headed back toward the sluice. They were sure to argue for another few hours. I’d ride that horse, even if it meant hiking my skirts to my knees and baring my ankles. It had to be just as bored and probably needed exercise. I had to do something productive or I’d go mad.
Steering around the same patch of mud, I cut close to the sluice. A blood-curdling yell halted everyone. I whirled to see the entire bank of earth rushing downward, a huge avalanche of mud, rocks and two large trees root-first. The mass headed straight for me.
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