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Know What You Are Talking About

Maxineby Maxine Davis


I love historical romances. I do want to write one set in the Old West, but I don’t know much more than I’ve seenrawhidein reruns of old Westerns. Would I call it a petticoat or a crinoline? Is a corset hooked or laced? I do know you mount a horse from the left side—thank you very much, Bonanza. They had canned peaches at the store—this, from Rawhide, but starting when? Were most guns a 45? I don’t think so.

I have been to fabulous historical-information workshops. M&M had some of the very best! I still want to attend some more of them. Of course, I realize I still have to do research. Lots of research. I have some great writer-friends that I plan to ask about where and how to start.

olive treesIt’s not as if I have not done research. I have. I have a book primarily set in Italy. The hero is Italy’s “Olive Oil King” and has hills andolive oil tree
hills of olive trees. I researched olive trees and olive oil. Geez, I now know more about olive trees than I ever thought I wanted to know.   But it all came in handy. When writing, I could see the trees in my mind, I knew where the nets were placed and how. I knew you wanted the first press of oil and could almost taste it. I think of these things every time I look at a bottle of olive oil.


olive oil2But there is nothing like going there to see things first hand, and my trip to Italy helped. I came back and had to editolive oil 1st press
my book. It felt good having more authentic information. Now for a trip back to the Old West…



How do you feel about research? Do you have the plot set in your mind and fill in the gaps with research? Or does the research suggest the plot?


Walt Mussell - August 12, 2014 - 6:13 am

I do research, but I’m afraid research will paralyze me and keep me from writing. It’s as if it doesn’t sink in if I don’t at least write about it first.

However, I also read books my authors set in a similar time period. I end up making lists of items that are available in that time.

Marilyn Baron - August 12, 2014 - 6:33 am

Italy and olive oil. Can’t wait to read that book. I usually have the book and plot before I do research. But a lot of times because I’ve visited a place it makes me want to write about it. I did a lot of research for my book set in Bermuda but still things constantly change and you have to update. One thing to watch out for with research is the temptation to use it all in a book. You have to find the right balance.

Maxine Davis - August 12, 2014 - 9:26 am

Hi Walt, I know what you mean. It’s hard for me to stop the research nd get back to writing. Good idea to read the books and make a list. Thanks for commenting.

Maxine Davis - August 12, 2014 - 9:28 am

Hello Marilyn, I thought about you some times when I was writing the Italy book. If I could cook carbonera like you, I probably would have ate it every night! Thanks for commenting.

Connie Gillam - August 12, 2014 - 9:45 am

Funny that you should mention research. I’m doing a historical that involves Native Americans.
I tried writing as much of the book as I could before researching. That didn’t work. Too much of the history of that period affects the plot. I’m taking a “brief” break to do research.

And thanks, Marilyn, I’ll limit what I put in the book to just the essentials.

Maxine Davis - August 12, 2014 - 11:18 am

Good luck, Connie. I know I had to go back to the Italy book and take out a lot of information that I found interesting, but I think I was the only person that would think so.

sandra Elzie - August 12, 2014 - 11:32 pm

I’d love a quick trip back to the old west. lol I’m currenly working on a series set in 1944-45…WWII era and I’ve had to look up things like songs & movies of that time, costs to ride the trolley…I knew it took a token, but not how much the token cost.

Basically, I don’t enjoy research…it takes time away from writing, but it’s just a fact of writing since I want accuracy.

Piper - August 13, 2014 - 8:10 am

You and Walt are right–research can be so interesting it can be distracting. In my case, it has to be done. I’m already facing questions about my historical events, since everyone appears to be comfortable with the view that they grew up with rather than acknowledging more recent scholarship. So, while it can impact disciplined writing practices, it’s necessary.

Maxine Davis - August 13, 2014 - 9:13 am

Sandy, Yep, a little time travel would be good. Can’t wait to read your book! Thanks for commenting.

Maxine Davis - August 13, 2014 - 9:15 am

Piper, There is a book. Something about a timeline. I think Bryonna knows the title that she said is helpful in writing. Thank you for commenting.

tamara leblanc - August 13, 2014 - 1:31 pm

Late in commenting, sorry, but I saw your smiling face and this fun post and had to say hi!
I LOVE historicals, too. And to be honest, I haven’t read or written a good one in years. I used to devour them. But I don’t like doing too much research, so its kind of tough to write a good one.
Do you have any suggestions for a really good historical read? I like em sexy and I don’t mind the cowboys but I love knights.
Hugs to you!

Carol Burnside - August 13, 2014 - 3:13 pm

I recently read a “historical” based in the late 1800’s and one guy says to the other, “What’s up?” followed by “Not much. What’s up with you?” For a second there, I thought it had morphed into a time travel, but alas, it was just lazy writing. In another place, two girls have an exchange of “Seriously?” “Seriously.” Jerked me right out of the story.

Such things drive me nuts, so I know research is necessary, but it’s not my favorite part of writing.

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