AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

Eden
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Writing/Research Process

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Jeanne Blasberg (jeanneblasberg) | 49 comments So tonight's topic is my writing / research process:

One great piece of advice I got from Anita Shreve (so sad we've lost her) is that you should do just enough research to keep the story moving forward. One of the first pitfalls I fell in when writing EDEN was my desire to include so much of the great information I'd uncovered in my research. It was during the revising process that I cut most of it out. It was noggin down the story and my book was reading too much like a history book! For the 1938 hurricane, I read many personal accounts written by survivors of the hurricane in order to create a scene that simulated what it may have been like to live through it. As far as maternity hospitals at the turn of the century were concerned, I did factual research, but read many first person accounts, again, written by women who had been forced to give their babies up for adoption. It was their emotional truths that helped me construct the scenes at the Willows Maternity hospital.

As I was writing a scene, I would stop when I got to a point where I was in over my head and do research. Like I said earlier, I only included just those bits in the narrative that would set the context and the era and not bog the story down.


Jeanne Blasberg (jeanneblasberg) | 49 comments So some more on my writing process - I am not an outliner.... EDEN was 8 years in the making. It took a long time to complete the first draft and then underwent three years of revisions as I was basically going back to school on learning the craft of the novel.

I have the most energy during the day and decided to dedicate my mornings to writing. This required me reorganizing my life to some extent. Anything that is brainless - chores, paperwork, errands - I save for the afternoon. Doctors appointments and meetings I schedule for the afternoon. Mornings are sacred time.

I treat writing like a job and sit at my desk and turn off the internet and I write for four hours. It absolutely flies by.


message 3: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly I can identify with the temptation to include too much history. Good advice to include only what is needed to move the story ahead. Like many others, I succumbed to the temptation to tell too much history and had to remove it. But the background was really useful to me as the writer. I would also stop and do research when I found I needed to know some historical detail.


Jeanne Blasberg (jeanneblasberg) | 49 comments The backstory is always so interesting and I found that whatever I took out of the book was great for blogging later on!


message 5: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Sanchez (goodreadscomeileen_sanchez) | 16 comments Jeanne wrote: "So tonight's topic is my writing / research process:

One great piece of advice I got from Anita Shreve (so sad we've lost her) is that you should do just enough research to keep the story moving f..."
"I did factual research, but read many first person accounts..."
Did the factual research and first person accounts require you to gain permissions for your published book? I have a lot of the same type of research from newspapers, doctoral dissertations that include first person accounts. I'm weeding through which need permission.


Jeanne Blasberg (jeanneblasberg) | 49 comments No I did not need to get permission. I read a book called "The Girls Who Went Away" to get the emotional flavor of life in a maternity hospital and to get a sense of the facilities. I read a book called Sudden Sea which was filled with first person accounts of surviving the 1938 Hurricane. I used that to get the magnitude of the damage and the type of destruction that occurred in order to write scenes of my fictional family living through the same


message 7: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Sanchez (eileenharrisonsanchez) | 59 comments Thank you!


message 8: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly Jeanne wrote: "The backstory is always so interesting and I found that whatever I took out of the book was great for blogging later on!"
Yes, I found that too.


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