September 1, 2009

Researching

Working at the University has its privileges, one of which is the ability to request books from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor libraries. While this comes in handy whenever I'm in school, this often overlooked perk is not restricted to my academic schedule. I have access to these resources whenever I want or need them.

Well, as I'm determined to start writing the next novel on November 1st in honor of NaNoWriMo, I want to make sure I am as ready as I can possibly be. I need my characters to be as real as I can make them. In an effort to do so, I'm working through the emotional toolbox and populating character charts. I'm working on their backstories and trying to define their ambitions and motivations.

Of course, the story isn't just about the characters. Not this time. Their story is going to be shaped by the world they live in. Because of this, I am also very concerned with creating a world that is solid and thoroughly believable. I know I want it to resemble Ancient Egypt without being Ancient Egypt; I'm not interested in writing historical fiction.

However, as most any writer will tell you, research is necessary. Even when mutating a historical foundation into something fantastical, there will be things I will cannot answer on my own, blanks I cannot fill. When I find myself faced with the unknown, I must rely on books and websites to help give me the details that my imagination cannot provide.

Sometimes, though, the blanks are not endless voids, but shadows between solid shapes. That's kind of how I feel about the current project. There are too many vague, shady areas in my worldbuilidng. Think of it like an unseasoned soup. Even though I have all the main ingredients, I don't have enough salt and pepper in the mix. It needs more flavor.

This is when the library inter-campus loan system comes in handy. Instead of being forced to work through my very small and very limited public library at home, I'm able to quickly and easily get my hands on a variety of academic texts. First up, Egyptian Medicine in the Days of the Pharaohs by Nabil I. Ebeid. I've only gotten through 68 pages or so, but already I'm able to add in a little bit of that missing spice!