Going off last week, How much research is too much research? I have a tendency to dive into the research and go off on tangents. This can be distracting and a HUGE time sink as well as fascinating and mind expanding.
Finding the balance is sometimes difficult. Especially when your setting is a time (1874) that you can’t actually remember and a place (New York City) you don’t get to visit nearly as often as you would like. Yes, there is a lot of basic information you HAVE to look up. I have many, many bookmarks.
For example — Timeline of New York City (1850s – 1890s)
None of these are exhaustive of course. They are starting places. I ALSO have many, many books:
(Okay, maybe not THAT many books, but the collection keeps growing.)
At some point though, you have to stop reading and researching and write the book. Are you ever going to get everything right? No. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to at least be true to your own world. If you choose to ignore the historical facts, have a reason for doing it — and keep it consistent from book to book if you are doing a series.
It gets to be too much research if it bogs you down so much that you can never start putting words on paper. Avoid that.
Don’t skip researching all together either. It gives verisimilitude to your work, and shows the reader that you care about the period you have chosen to honor instead of blithely disregarding history because you can. Get the major facts right — the details can be tweaked…