I made the grave mistake of doing a little "light" research on my current WIP yesterday. My creative writing class wraps up next week and we owe a portfolio as our final assignment in the class. The portfolio will include, among other things, revised copies of the two pieces we workshopped. One of the major feedback items I received as part of this process was that people wanted to see more setting and time period descriptions to give them a better idea of the environment (so demanding). I've written previously about not meaning this to be a period piece, but I'm coming to the begrudging realization that this probably is a period piece, of sorts.
So yesterday, in my naivete, I thought, "Oh, I'll just look up a couple of things, how the city looked and how people dressed, no biggie."
BIG biggie. MAJOR EPIC biggie.
First things first, there were books out there about what I was writing on. Non-fiction, too, which is even better. Real facts. Things I can build off. Secondly, I had no idea what I was talking about. No idea. I was playing at amateur hour. I thought I had a cute, clever story (I still do), but there was SO MUCH MORE THERE that I would have seen if I'd bothered to ever look up anything. Ever.
Yes, I'm lazy.
My little research foray has now rocked my world. Fifteen books in my Amazon queue later and I'm already reconstructing the story. For the better, of course. And now that I have the missing piece, I realize I knew I was missing it the whole time. I've felt all along that I'm on the edge of something potentially wonderful, but I didn't have the tools to bring it to life. This is what I was missing all along. Context.
BUT now I have to do something with it. Like, read about it and synthesize that into something usable in my story. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. All I have to say is all this research better make me smarter. Like maybe I'll actually learn (and remember) when the Civil War took place (THIS IS A JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE, PEOPLE).