Down the Rabbit Hole


Whenever I am doing research for a story I, often times find myself falling down the rabbit hole. For those who aren’t familiar with the expression, it originated in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice falls down the White Rabbit’s hole, which takes her to Wonderland. It is commonly used to describe a deep dive into research, more often than not what starts out as a quick check, turns into several hours. Similar to when you go to the supermarket for “just a few items” and you come back with several bags brimming with shopping. Nonetheless going off on research tangents can be productive and at other a big time suck. I am very good at procrastinating and can use research as an excuse not to be meeting my word count goals.

I enjoy the research part of writing, although my search history would probably raise many eyebrows, particularly as I don’t write crime fiction. There are those that may wonder why I would have a search history littered with poisons, weapons, and historical events that may seem to be unconnected, to name but a few.  Research is essential to any story. Authors certainly aren’t experts in all fields; it fills in many gaps in our knowledge. The “University of Google” has come to my aide on many occasions. There are also many other areas of research to be found offline e.g. reference books, field trips and asking those who are familiar in that particular field. I have an author friend who is a former forensic anthropologist. I cannot thank her enough for all the help she has given me.

I am sure there are many of you that may have wanted to throw a book across the room (hopefully not one on your eBook readers) when you read something that is inaccurate and historically incorrect. Yes, fiction does give us free licence to alter history, but I feel that a little goes a long way. Some genres can be more forgiving than others can. Writing an event or adding something to story that is historically inaccurate or something that hadn’t been invented at that time will more often than not annoy readers of historical fiction, but not so much fans of fantasy genres.

Research adds a richer dimension to a story. I have often found inspiration through my research, sometimes even taking my story in a different direction than I intended. It has also assisted me in times where I have struggled to find my writing mojo.