Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Research, With Slight Embarrassment

In the process of writing The Stars Are Fire, the book I'm revising for my agent so we can get it out on submission, I have had the opportunity to do a lot of historical research. I've read the history of Denmark (from before the Ice Age up to about 1600), I've read about the Reformation, about the city of Wittenberg, about Renaissance food and drink and costumes, I've read about Swiss mercenaries, I've read about rapier fencing and European economics in the late middle ages and early Renaissance, I've read about Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler and the Holy Roman Emperor, I've read about purifying mercury and about equitorial armillae and the history of the telescope and the Copernican solar system and today I purchased the book "The Idiot's Guide to Astrology" because my protagonist is a professional astrologer and I thought I should make sure that while I'm throwing around all the cool astrological terms (like sesquisquare, Arabic Parts, conjuctions and the like), I am actually using them properly. Wikipedia is only good to a point; eventually I have to sit and read a book to see if I actually understand the system and how all the parts work together. Not that I said any of this to the clerk at the bookstore. I just endured her gaze and paid my $5.

Also! I am at about 30,000 words now. I need to set aside some time to type up my ms. I have decided to end Chapter Eight where I am and begin Chapter Nine. This also cleverly allows me to skip ahead a bit in the timeline, and to begin Chapter Nine with the discovery of a corpse. Oops! Who put that there?

13 comments:

  1. So what's in my future, Scott?

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  2. You will combine your neurological research about language acquisition with your fiction and the result will be a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

    Or, you'll have pizza. Possibly both will happen. Can't rule either one out. Astrology, I have learned, is an interpretive art, not a science.

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  3. Ah yes, when Mars crosses Jupiter's shadow, peperoni cannot be far behind...

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  4. I see your advanced degrees aren't letting you down! When mushrooms are in the ascendant, delivery will be to the house of Livia.

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  5. Well, I *am* married to an astronomer...

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  6. The second act of my book takes place in Tycho Brahe's abandoned observatory on the island of Hven!

    I wonder if you can get pizza delivered to Renaissance Denmark?

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  7. Well, considering it'd have to be shipped from Italy via the transportation of the time, it might give a new meaning to the phrase "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark"

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  8. The conversation here is interesting. Almost feel as if I'm intruding . .


    Anyway, I know how you can get caught up in research. Especially an interesting subject. And a corpse in chapter 9; wow how did you restrain yourself so long Scott? I'm already intrigued just from reading the topics of research. This is going to be great.

    .......dhole

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  9. Great job on the progression, Scott! You're putting me to shame with all of your research. I neither have the time or the money to go buy books about the stuff I'd love to research. I must rely on the internet, sadly, but it does okay for now I suppose.

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  10. "pepperoni cannot be far behind."

    Ha!

    We come for the posts and stay for the funny comments.

    And now for a technical question Scott. Should we be ending or starting chapters with bombshells? I always thought the whole cliffhanger thing meant the surprises came at the end of chapters to spurr readers onto the next chapter.

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  11. Mayowa, I think you can start a chapter with a big surprise (especially in the middle of the book), especially if the reader is expecting some other outcome to something you've set up previously. Start with a bang and end with a question, that's my rule. Always point toward the climax of the story and never give the reader a nice safe place to rest at the end of a chapter. So I don't necessarily end with cliffhangers, but I will cut a scene short at the end of a chapter and finish the scene in the beginning of the next chapter, just to get the reader to turn the page and push on into the next section. It's cruel and I've had complaints that it can be exhausting and unpleasant after a while.

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  12. Yay, we're done with Chapter 8! That has been the subject of far too many posts.

    And, I didn't know pizzas came with fortune cookies.

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  13. I think i'm going to save your answer off somewhere...it's very good.

    Thanks for the schooling.

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