Day 10 of NaNoWriMo and I only have 2,000 words. That’s only 14,600 words less than what I should have today, if I was on track for 50,000 words. To this, I shrug. I have a new project that cannot be rushed into one month.
I have a brand new idea for a novel and I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about and researching the topic, which I'm not revealing yet. Although I will tell you this: it has to do with women athletes during a particular period in American history. I love starting new projects. Brand new fresh starts. I haven’t written any words for the story yet – just reading and brainstorming so far. When writing something that requires research, I'm always wondering when to start the writing. Do I complete as much research as possible? Do I research as I'm writing? Do I write first and then fill in the gaps with knowledge gained from the research? I’ve heard historical novelists talk about this, and they all seem to do it differently.
Penelope Fitzgerald, author of The Blue Flower, said in an interview that she felt less confined by writing historical fiction because there were certain guidelines based on historical evidence already set for her to follow. The rules – of morality, culture, etc – are already set and she’s free to roam anywhere within those rules. I can see where she’s coming from, but I think historical fiction is more confining because of those rules. When writing historical fiction, I have to be careful of the language, and not just by making every word count. The language has to match the language of the historical time period. There are so many phrases and words engrained into my vocabulary that I have to pay extra special attention to how I say or describe something. I’ve been told to pare down the language to solve the problem, but that makes the story grey and dull.