You know how when you’re reading a book and it all makes sense and you’re not left wondering if the author had any idea what they were talking about? Yeah, well that requires research. Sometimes it requires more research than others. I write erotica and while that kind of research is fun, I also like to challenge myself by writing in different settings and different time periods. And those settings and periods have to ring true. What if I tried to write about someplace in Europe and someone from there actually read the book? It would be a disaster if I hadn’t done my research and just wrote like I had any idea what I was talking about, right?
Now, life as a protester seems pretty basic, right? Hold your horses. It depends. My protester lives on a commune. Have I ever lived on a commune? Nope. Much less in 1969. And the internet offers a ton of information, to be sure, but you have to dig through a lot of it to get what you need. And oh! The different kinds of communes. How to make sure the one I’ve created was actually similar to a real commune. But I did it. Tommy’s tent in the center of many other tents works. So I feel good about that.
But what about the nurse? It was all good and easy when she was on liberty hanging out with Tommy. But what does she do when she’s on board the ship? Sure, she cares for sick and wounded, but there are no wounded and not a lot of sick people on the way to Vietnam. There will be plenty to tend to on the way back stateside. So what does a Navy nurse do all day on a ship? It’s taken a lot of research, but I’ve found some good sites, finally. I mean, you don’t want to read how many thermometers she washes each day or that kind of thing, but you want the experience to ring true, right? And that’s what research is all about.
Now, mind you, the best books you read should never show everything the author learned. In other words, it shouldn’t be just facts like bragging “Look at all the research I’ve done.” But, believe me, if the book is any good at all, that author did her research and did it well.