C. LaRene Hall
This is a continuation of a workshop I attended by L C Lewis. It's exactly as I typed it during the class.
Keep story balanced.
Don’t put words into actual historical people’s mouths.
Now brainstorm ideas that will flesh out your story. What details on settings, climate, dress, housing, lifestyle, work, recreation, contemporary people and events, landmarks, etc will add depth to your story? Does this put them in the moment? Does it improve the story? What book reading, and what songs did they hear?
Do the legwork – Know where to look and who to ask. Visit museums, forts, battlegrounds, old homes, archives, historical societies find a specialist, write to the author of a book, article, or web page.
Don’t write down to your reader. Don’t be pretentious.
What adds to the story – you don’t want to slow the story down. Rearrange
Begin online. Your research will carry you off to unknown places, so reread your project definition often. Narrow your search to a few key words. Get names of contact person. Go to the national park service site covering your topic area. Many have online historical references, articles photos, archaeological info, maps, research papers, biographies, college studies, etc. Ask them to recommend books, pamphlets, or experts on the subject. Make an appointment to speak with the curator if possible or a docent. Check out other gov sites. The American memory project has innumerable documents, historic maps, correspondence of presidents, and other public figures. Type the words history of next to anything you want to research from the past and you’ll get hits.
Libraries are your friends – You can begin researching at the local library. Make friends with someone working the research desk. Get on a first name basis with them. Tell them you’re an author. Offer to mention them in the acknowledgements section of your book. Special books needed for research. First check with your local library or see if they can get it through circulation. Some older books are now printed online. Buy used from Amazon and remember to keep your receipts.
It’s time to write with confidence. Start the great balancing act. Don’t show off your dazzling brilliance. What do your readers want to know? Don’t lecture and don’t let your characters lecture.
Show, don’t tell. Take them on a journey. Make your characters historically accurate, but bigger than life. Your readers are looking for a solid historical context with characters that sweep them away.
Be careful with regional speech patterns. Be consistent. They can slow down the read and become tedious. Capture the emotion without the crud. Practice depicting strong emotions. Start with action and conflict. Don’t lose your hero. Maintain his POV. What is the action costing him?
Recheck your project definition often.
So the first 500 words needs to grab the reader? Get them invested in your character and story.
You must grab editors in first 500 words.
Know your market. You need an agent.