Research, the foundation

The foundation of every good historical fiction novel is research. Your story needs to be woven onto the fabric of history itself. This doesn’t mean you have to teach your readers history by labouring through a list of dates or tediously enumerating every member of a royal lineage. It’s just needs the the smallest details scattered here and there that give the tale some authenticity by painting pictures in the readers head. If you need to name the entire household of a noble family or create an index of key dates, then do it as an appendix, like George R. R. Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ to name just one example. That way the reader can decide to soak up the extra information if he/she wants to.

Here’s an extract from my notebook. When I was doing the majority of my research, I kept a ring-bound notebook which contains lots of scribbling that including a couple of maps. Rob Cooper has asked for more maps and so has Mel.

Map extract from research

Page from research notebook including a sketched map

How accurate is this map? Probably not very accurate. It’s build from some descriptions of the temple complex in Tenochtitlan and a few poor sketches I’ve seen and it’s built using some facts but more importantly, it’s useful as a reference to help me stay consistent when I return to a place I’ve described before.




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