Amber Stockton — Don’t Kill Your Book with Too Much Research
Hi! Amber Stockton here. Donna has graciously invited me to spend a bit of time on her blog this week chatting about writing and sharing about my latest release. So, pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage and a little snack, and sit a spell with me.
I recently spoke to a group of writers about research in fiction, and how what you do with that research can either kill your story or breathe life into it that lasts long after a reader has turned the final page. That seemed to be a great idea for our brief visit, especially since my most recent novel required quite a bit of research.
For all of my previous books, I had pretty much stuck to the 18th and 19th centuries for my setting. One or two just barely crept over the turn of the 20th century, but this story jumped clear into 1925, right smack in the middle of the Roaring 20’s. It was the first time I had ventured into this decade, so all of my previous research didn’t do me much good. That meant almost starting from scratch.
However, the topic I chose aided me some in that I had watched several movies set during this time period, so I could at least draw inciting inspiration from them to get me started. That didn’t get me very far, though, as my setting was specifically a state fair in Douglas, Wyoming, and everything else I had seen or read was east of the Mississippi.
Back to the routine of contacting historical societies, doing internet searches and comparing various sites, multiple trips to the library, and in-depth reading of newspapers printed at the time as well as one journal I managed to find containing a personal account of the fair.
After several weeks of gathering a substantial collection of facts, details, pertinent information, and eyewitness accounts, I sat down at my computer to begin the story. Sometimes, I can jump right into the action, and sometimes, I struggle with staring at that blank, white space on my computer screen, agonizing over writing even one sentence.
See, the trouble with research is you sometime get so much of it, you end up losing the story in the myriad of details you’ve compiled. It’s possible to get so bogged down with historical accuracy, that page after page becomes an information dump, which more often than not bores the reader. For this story, though, a scene instantly popped into my mind, and off I went! Fingers flew across the keyboard, and the story took on a life of itself.
I was very grateful I’d spent those several weeks doing all the research I did, though, as it made the writing of the story so much easier. It also allowed me to throw in some cameo appearances by notable people of the time and give a nod to a favorite movie of mine as well. But you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are.
Now, it’s YOUR turn. I’ll be giving away a FREE copy of this book via print or digital format. The choice is yours if you win. All you need to do is leave a comment answering one of the two following questions (or both, if you wish).
- What was the last book you read where you learned a new tidbit of historical fact, or even where you learned a lot about a topic previously unknown to you?
- Since my story is one of nine in this collection of state fair settings throughout American history, have you ever been to a state fair? If so, why did you go and what was your favorite part?
Come back on Thursday to learn a little bit more about me and my latest release.
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the wellness industry, helping others become their best from the inside out.
She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and a Retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold twenty (20) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn or at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.