Research is quite an overwhelming concept for some historical writers if covering a period with huge amounts of information. How can we possibly hope to know enough before starting the novel? One piece of advice I’ll offer is to choose a background period with which you’re already familiar. Then start writing the story and fill in the gaps in historical background as and when needed. This avoids spending too much time researching before getting started writing, and also avoids using every bit of information you can find!
We all bring our own cultural influences and knowledge to the past and can never fully understand what it was like to live then. So the next best option is to read about it from a historical person. One of the best kinds of research is Primary Sources, material written around the time of your novel, if not too far back in history. Good sources include books (fiction and non-fiction), diaries, newspapers, maps, paintings, drawings, guides and letters.
Next time, I’ll look at one of these examples in more detail.