Timelines

For the past few days I’ve researched timelines for my latest book, The Boston Mountains: Lost In The Ozarks. Since the stories cover a variety of dates, it appeared to be a daunting task to make sure I knew what was going on in the world during the time passage of my tales. Like everything else we writers do, I won’t use all of the information I’ve accumulated.

In order to know where to start, I had to already know my stories, so I waited until the book was pretty well written before I began recording timelines. The most helpful book I’ve found was The Timetables of History by Grun. It’s divided into dates, then subjects so I could ignore some of the sections that would have nothing to do with the book. What I needed were world politics, daily living and inventions. I could easily scan those entries without being bothered with music and art which wouldn’t apply to my book on a world-wide level. When it comes to those, I have to narrow it down to the area I’m writing about.
I quickly learned about matches of all sorts, canned goods, clothing, hairstyles, etc., without wading through too much I didn’t need. No matter what we choose to use for this research, there will be a lot that doesn’t apply. It’s quicker to use this type of book than to look up each of the subjects separately either online or in a book.
There are times when books are handier for this type of research than the Internet. I have gone to the Internet for some specific things and find it eats a lot of time for someone like me. I’m never sure exactly where to go to best quickly locate the information I want, then where to go to verify it. I don’t trust many sites and certainly not blogs that divulge historical information. Too many of them are incorrect.
When I first began writing a historical column many years ago, I made the mistake of trusting an earlier historians for the facts about something. Later, I myself researched deeply enough to correct the error several others and I had made. But once something like that is in print, it’s very difficult to get it changed. Some of the information from those earlier articles has ended up in the Arkansas Encyclopedia, and when I get time I will submit my information and source to them so they can change it. I am trying very hard not to let misinformation show up in my book.
A good friend and historian once told me that it’s impossible not to make mistakes when writing about history using interviews and other sources, because sometimes no one knows the exact truth or remembers it. I’m finding examples of this in the books I’m going through, and long ago decided that the stories people tell me must be considered folk tales, and not taken for the gospel truth in every instance. Not because they are lying, but because everyone remembers things differently.
In this new book are many folk tales, but I’m trying my best to run down the background facts and make sure they are correct within the wonderful stories that must be told. I’ve found so many entertaining, funny, sad, unbelievable stories while working on this book that I simply must relate them to the readers so they can enjoy them as much as I. I hope to make the distinction between factual and memory for everyone’s pleasure.
Be very careful what you write, it can come back to haunt you.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in Boston Mountains, folktales, Internet, Ozarks, research, stories, truth, Velda Brotherton, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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