So, you’ve had a terrific idea for a historical fiction story. The only problem is you can’t travel to the place the event happened. Because your book is a historical fiction, all of your facts have to be correct. Don’t have to scrap that idea just because you can’t get there. You can still write it!
Even if you don’t drive, you can still travel to where the event happened. You can travel by plane, train, or bus. Better yet, there’s an even better way to get there. I can sum this up in two words: road trip! Ask a good friend or family member to take you to your destination and make a party out of it! Be sure to take lots of pictures of your locale. Be sure to visit their local historical society. And don’t forget to visit the local library in that city or town. You’ll most likely find additional resources in their reference section.
What if you don’t have the money or there’s some other reason you can’t travel to this destination? You still have three sources to help you bring your story to life.
Your local library is a wealth of resources. This is always the place to start. You say that you don’t have a library card? No problem. You can easily get one for free! Also, you can start using the card the same day.
Where do you start? Ask the reference librarian. Librarians will bend over backwards, trying to help you find what you want. If they can’t find it, they’ll point you in the right direction.
As you find books pertaining to your subject, list the title, author, page numbers where you found your information, copyright, and the publisher. You’ll have to have this information for your bibliography.
At your library, you can find information about the geography of the area that’ll be featured in your book. You can also find out exactly how people dressed, talked, what they celebrated, how they courted one another, and their traditions. Actually, the list goes on and on. You’ll also be able the address of the historical society where the event happened along with its’ address, phone number, and the society’s current president’s name. Be sure to take lots of notes at the library since you can’t borrow reference books. You don’t want to find the historical society this way? You can still find this. How? I have a two-word answer for you: the internet.
Most libraries have computer banks that are connected to the internet. Just give the librarian your library card and settle yourself in front of one. Do a search on your subject and you’ll be surprised at how many websites and blogs appear! You will find even more information there that agrees with what you just found in the reference books. To include your internet findings in your bibliography, list the title of the internet article plus the URL of the website or blog. Always write to the copyright holder to ask permission to use their work. You can usually find their address at the bottom of the website.
This is an invaluable resource. As I mentioned before, you’ll find all of their contact information both on the library shelves and their website on the internet. Also, you’ll find so much more there, including a gift shop. Take full advantage of this. You can purchase period music, postcards of what the original subject looked like and what the area looked like, and more books on your subject. Many of the books for sale in their gift shop are only sold there. If the books aren’t in your library, offered for sale by the historical society, or in an online bookstore, email them asking if you can purchase the item through the mail. I’ve done this and the historical society I did business with was more than helpful! You’ll find a plethora of information on your subject there.
You name it, and you can find information about your subject on these websites. I did an internet search when hunting for historical websites and found 16,800,000 of them! Just search for them on your favorite search engine.
BEFORE I CLOSE
I’d also like to share my favorite research portal. It’s called World Cat https://www.worldcat.org. This site will take you anywhere. Here you can find Anything that you have to research for your historical fiction. This is worth taking a look at!
Thanks to libraries, the internet, and historical societies, we all can write our historical fiction books no matter what!