In writing fiction novels, I find that it is often a fine line between reasonable facts and absolute facts. When I read a book, I relate to the characters. Yes, I need to know where they are, what year they are in and what they are wearing to move the plot forward. Like if I’m reading a western set in the 19th century, I don’t want one of the main characters to drive off in a pickup truck. But, if the rider has the character just ride off on a horse, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to know if its an Arab or a Andalusian, unless it somehow plays a part in the plot. Keep me in the character’s frame of mind.
I mention this because today I was working on my latest novel Peace by Pieces – Farrell Family Saga – Book 7. Two of the main characters are on their way from the Houston Space Center to the Kennedy Space Center. In this case, I felt it was important to name the airport where they will be landing when they reach Florida and to give the reader a bird’s eye view of the launch sites, the scaffolding, the sheds, the tech buildings and the dorms where the astronauts and ground techs are housed before, during and after the launches.
The research takes time away from the creative aspect of book writing and I can’t say I enjoy it. Still, I recognize that it is necessary. And truthfully, I often find myself learning one detail and that detail leads me to wonder about another aspect of the subject. Then, it’s a fun trip of uncovering bits and pieces that may not get into the book, but certainly help my frame of mind as I put my characters though their paces.
So, I’ll do the research. A critique I recently received from a fellow writer underlined the importance of such research. I had my lead character jumping into a first of it’s kind 1964 Ford Mustang, when actually, the first Ford Mustang was a 1964 1/2. Oops. Thanks to Jim Veary, a dear friend and a great short story writer, I dodged that mistake.
All this discussion of research brought to mind a quote by Mark Twain. “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter – ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”