This week I rewrote almost all of Chapter One of the WWII project, which I think I might title Sullied Heritage instead of Crossweathers, but we’ll see. (Many thanks to Tressa Green for taking a moment out of her day to help me brainstorm.) In the middle of the rewrite I came across several problems that deal completely with research.
I couldn’t for the life of me find record of the Elaine, though I know I found it in an obscure book several years ago.
That wasn’t too much of a problem, I just started researching different boats that sunk and came upon the Ceramic.
However, the Ceramic sunk right around midnight and there was a massive storm going on at the same time (which accounts for how many souls were lost at sea after the sinking). The original draft had the boat sinking in the late evening with the sun setting.
So my rewrite had to change the time, date, and weather. But all of that is really OK with me because I feel like it’s a stronger chapter because of it. (Of course, I’m rewriting stuff that I wrote almost ten years ago, so it’s bound to be stronger now. I think I could sneeze a sentence better now than I wrote back then.)
All of these changes got me to thinking about how different it is to research things today. Ten years ago I was in the library a lot and even purchased several books on WWII to help me. I do still love the library, but a lot of the information I need is far easier to get a hold of via the internet.
Such as the rationing in both America and Germany. Or the names of which boats were taken down by submarines in the Atlantic. Or the bombing in Ulm in 1944 (which I didn’t know about until I started this research).
There are some things that I learned through people, though. Such as the yellow pill that was rubbed into margarine in order to make it look like butter. (I’m not kidding. Apparently that’s real. I’ll never look at margarine the same way.) Or the eyeliner women used in order to draw a line on the back of their legs so that they appeared to be wearing pantyhose.
I say all that to get to the main point, which is that I super love the Googles. I got more information out of one night of research than I had in hours scouring the library ten years ago. And it inspired me to add a Fact vs. Fiction page onto the story blog for the WWII novel (which is still scheduled to begin release June 1st.)
This page will take what I put in the story — such as the sinking of the Ceramic — and explain what really happened versus what I chose to include in the book, with a little bit about why I chose to do it that way. It’s mostly for those history buffs out there. Or people who might be curious. And, of course, for me, since I find the whole process of researching this novel fascinating.