Doing your own research

Not everything can be thought up, some things are better to know.

You can google a lot of facts, but not expert opinions or answers to non-trivial questions. How were libraries illuminated in the days when there was no electricity? What would have happened to the theory of evolution without paleontology? What was the life of sailors on the yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron at the beginning of the nineteenth century? In some cases, after a week of searching on the internet, one has to admit that it is impossible to continue work without the help of a specialist.

Finding professionals is not that hard. You can collect ten names of authors who have written articles on similar topics in the last five years, and then fish their emails from the address books of the universities in which they teach. Perhaps there is a blog of the passionate fan of exactly what the next scene of the book will not be convincing without. Another good option is thematic forum.

Getting answers is harder.

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Variable Naming Convention

Most likely we will need names, lots of names. Characters, places, cities, months. Where to get them?

One way would be to use existing names from the language suited for the fictional world we write in. In imaginary Russia it’s okay to have a protagonist with the name Polina Zubkov (friends of friends of friends whose grandparents were from Ukraine would suggest Zubkova, but it’s all the same). It sounds almost right, alien and authentic enough and won’t cause uncontrollable bursts of laughter from the Russian-speaking reader.

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How did it all start

So, let’s say somebody who always liked to write and tell stories, albeit short ones, one day decided to write a book. He had an interesting idea for some time – he read a lot of books, good and bad, after all. He had a few good plot drivers – set of characters, imaginary world, conflict, etc. How should he start?

Actually, no, the first question is wrong. Should he even try that? Aren’t all the books written yet? Even if he finishes his book, who’s going to read it? Why would somebody want to publish it? Oh, look, all the reasons why he shouldn’t even start.

But perhaps he will anyway.

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