Researching Recent(ish) History

1:00 AM

Hello fellow writers!

Today, I'm going to share a few tips for researching recent-ish history. I think there is a special challenge in researching something that is within one-hundred years of our time. Often, we almost feel like we know some things because we've heard about it from people or have seen it depicted in various media forms. In writing Emmeline, and in helping with the research for The Vintage Jane Austen series, I learned a few things.

I think the biggest thing I learned is that even if you think you know something, look it up. There were so many facts I thought I knew about the early 1930s because of what I had read and talked with my grandparents. Some of them, I was right about, a few things, I was wrong about. Recent history is great a fooling you into thinking you know more then you do.

The best resource for recent history is people. Since we were sharing what we learned as we researched for The Vintage Jane Austen series, we were all able to share what relatives and older people we knew had to say. I tell you, some of those details may not have been huge, but they added so much realism to the story.

While there are many books and movies depicting the time, I spent a lot of time reading books that were written by people who lived during the time. Grace Livingston Hill was my favorite author,  but I read a couple of others. No, they don't have a completely accurate view, but they captured the feel of the time, what scared people and gave them hope, better than anything else because they lived it.

Oddly enough, one of the things I found to be most helpful in getting a feel for the time was finding out slang words of the time. Slang changes rapidly so including period-correct slang words (in moderation) really helped bring out the flavor.

I always look at the source of my information. There are a lot of good books and online articles, but every once in a while, in looking up the source of the information, I find it not to be a reliable source. Along that same line, make sure to keep good notes on where you get what information for future reference.

This is the first in a new feature of Wednesday blog posts just for writers! Next week, I'll be giving five tips for retelling an old story. 

You Might Also Like