1. Bowler
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    Bowler New Member

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    Writing/Research alternation difficulty

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Bowler, Oct 12, 2009.

    Hey everyone. I'm writing a historical fiction novel set during the Cold War in the Soviet Union. Only problem is that I can't find enough research and information on my setting to write confidently, or even close to accurately. I've been advised before to simply push through a plot and then change it with research later, but I keep feeling that if I have more knowledge of my setting, it would be alot easier and I'd get more ideas. What do you think? Anybody had this issue with doing research while writing?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Have you tried going to a library?

    I know the problem you mean, but I tend to find that once I list down what I need to find out, it makes it a lot easier to do the research, and get writing. Sooner or later you're going to have to make a go of the writing, or the project will never get off the ground.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree about deferring research. What you learn in the course of research can force major changes in your storyline.

    So much about te Soviet Union was kept quiet from the West during the Cold War years that I'm not sure how much you'll be able to unearth now. It's not really my area of interest, though, so I really don't know how to research it more effectively, if you can't mine it from the usual search engines.
     
  4. Bowler
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    Bowler New Member

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    I would go to the library, but I live in Germany at the moment and my skills in the language aren't good enough to read most history books. For now I'm trying to find some sources on the web but it's not turning up much.
     
  5. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Depending on what plot you have in mind, you may be able to try writing scenes where you know the background won't matter. How much is the historical background intricate to your plot--that is, is the plot you have in mind a story deeply ingrained in the Cold War itself, or is it a love story with a Cold War backdrop, say for example? The latter may be easier to "dive into" than the former, if you're diving into characterization and romance and deferring the Cold War elements.

    I certainly wouldn't defer writing--something--anything! If you feel you cannot get started on plotting or first-drafting your novel, try writing a short story that works around the elements you want to address in your novel, using what you do know, while you're preparing to write what you want to write.

    If you can't get the books you want in the library, try googling with key words that address what you want to address in your book, not only to find sites to read, but to find book titles that you can then purchase on the many websites available through which you can purchase books cheaply.

    Depending on what you want to write, you may even want to go deeper into your research, travel to the Soviet Union or find people to talk to who lived there at the time.

    What you've told us really tells us little--you could be writing a thriller novel about Cold War espionage, you could be writing the simple life of a farmer in the Soviet Union, you could be writing about the life of someone in a prison camp or the life of Mr. Gorbachev. Whatever your specific interest in this period, focus your research there.

    Good luck with your writing!

    Charlie
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then you clearly need to upgrade your googling skills, 'cause it's all there for the finding!... be more specific in googling, as charlie notes in 'focusing' on the actual things you need to know about...

    and read books that deal with the aspects of the cold war you want to write about... you can get used paperbacks cheaply from amazon.uk... john le carre's works in particular are pertinent and very well researched, since he was actually a member of britain's secret service [MI5 and MI6], and almost all of them deal with cold war issues...
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I would try to find novels, translated in your native language, that take place during the time of the Cold War in Soviet Union. Fiction or Non-fiction. Anything I could find.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i think his native tongue is english, but as he said, since he's now living in germany, it's hard to obtain books in english... which is why i suggested used books from amazon.uk... i used them to get books myself, when living in france and italy and found it both easy and affordable...
     
  9. Sillraaia
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    Sillraaia Senior Member

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    Yes, I get stuck in my writing too, if I have a rough idea of where I need to go, but no specifics. You gotta sit down and think of the specifics, and then use those specific terms in the search engines, rather than the broader ones you might have been relying on so far.
    You simply need to know what it is exactly that you need to research.
     
  10. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    The problem is, if you completely stop the writing train, it’s really hard to get it moving again.

    As a writer of historical fiction I know the importance of accurate history, but there is also the pitfall of retelling too many facts. Remember the story is still fictional, what makes it historical is its relation and proximity to a historical event.
     
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