About the Tour
In anticipation of the release of “Protecting the Poor” (book three in the Tales of Faith series), Amanda is guest posting or being featured on over a dozen blogs each month. Each post is unique to the blog—an inspirational post, an article on the writing craft, an excerpt from one of the Tales of Faith books… you’ll just have to visit each blog to see what comes up. 😉 Amanda will link to each blog on , so check in every week and see what blogs have a special Tales of Faith feature!
Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
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My Stages of Research
I’m a lover of history—thus, naturally, a lover of historical fiction. There is nothing quite so spectacular as historical elements woven into a new creation. On the flip side, there is nothing so exasperating as an exciting tale that is flawed with a historical error (surely I’m not the only one who screams at the author when I come across something unbelievably inaccurate—okay, I don’t scream, but I definitely talk to the poor author).
Research is tough work. I get that. And, I may even have a reader or two who has screamed at me for an inconsistent historical detail. It happens.
But as authors, we do need to try to avoid historical errors at all costs. I realize that different authors have different processes in ensuring historical accuracy to their books. Here is what I do.
Stage One Research
Almost as soon as I have an idea, I start researching. First, I want to be sure the idea is even feasible. There have been many story ideas I’ve either scratched or changed the time period just so that the idea would historically fit. And then, there have been those times such as for “Tales of Faith” in which I just cheated altogether and consider it more fantasy than historical. But still, I did research. I researched the medieval era, castles, food, clothing, speech patterns, specific words, and war tactics. Did I use everything? No, because I decided to make this series a happier series and not contain all of the real, gruesome details of the Dark Ages. But as an author I want to know more historical details than my readers need to know. So I dig deep and thoroughly into the era. I research both general information (in this case, medieval village or city life) and more specific details (I read almost an entire bowyer’s book for “Protecting the Poor”). Sometimes, I’ll even read a fiction book or two (yes, I totally read a couple of “Robin Hood” books for “Protecting the Poor”), but one has to be very cautious in using second-hand sources for research. It may be more enjoyable than digging out old history books or scouring the web for reliable sources (by the way, Wikipedia isn’t academically-approved, so I’d accept its info with a grain of salt), but if the author didn’t do his research, you’ll be relaying false historical information.
Stage Two Research
Once I have a general idea of the era and my story idea, I start writing—because, I’ll be honest, I love history (oh wait, I already said that…). I can read a dozen books on one subject and never write one word. There comes a point when you have to split your focus on writing as well as research. So I research while I write. I have to be careful, because I can get caught up in the research and it slows me down—in which case I color-code a section to fill in later. But small things—what did Belle cook for her father’s special meal?—those are things that I do a quick search for (“Common fare for 1300 kings”). If I’m not certain a specific word was in use during that era, I do a quick look-up (“Touché origin”). And then, apart from my writing time, I keep plodding through some of those books or websites I have flagged.
Stage Three Research
After my rough draft is completed, I go back through and take a more critical look for words I’m not sure of, phraseology that may be too modern, specific details that I saved to “fill in later,” etc. I might do more extensive research here, finding two or three sources that back up my information before I mark it as acceptable and continue.
Stage Four Research
And then I send my story off to beta readers. This is kind of a cheating aspect, but it still counts in my research zone, because I have an awesome group of beta readers. They’ll catch words that I didn’t or they’ll question certain terminology (“Oh, not everyone knows what a knot garden is? I’d better explain that in more detail.”). That helps me as an author to know better how to relay the information I have researched to the readers who have not researched.
So there you have it. My rough sketch of a method of researching.
How do you research as you write? Do you do more research before or after? Do you use more books, magazines, or websites for your research?