Sooner or later you have to turn that research into words on the page. I’m as guilty as anyone of finding just the right image or description for what I’m working on. Especially if the subject is well documented in other ways. I spent the better part of a year studying New Orleans (pictured above) for several short stories that tie in to Fantastic America and the other books in the Magic Unleashed series. Temporarily, I became an expert on the Crescent City, even though I’ve never actually been there.
The picture I used for this post was part of the research I did for a short story called, Midnight at the Sultan’s Palace. The view in the picture is of St. Louis Cathedral from the ‘palace’ at 716 Dauphine Street. I poured over books, maps (An interesting collection of insurance maps by the way), audio recordings, new articles and thousands of pictures online to get a better sense of New Orleans and its history. Which is all well and good, especially since it served me well for several projects. Also, new Orleans is fascinating.
Eventually I had to write those projects though. All the research in the world won’t do you a bit of good until you write the story. Did I need eight views of the palace (and floor plans)? Probably not. At the time I convinced myself it would add authenticity to the story and help me visualize the characters moving through the building. Once I dove into the narrative, I realized it was overkill and curiosity on my part.
Write. Even if you discover inaccuracies later, you’ll be able to edit those out. Even if you don’t, your work doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. It only has to move your readers and makes sense within the context of the story you want to tell (or show). None of that can happen until you put the words on the page. So, write.