Do you ever wonder if research is done before the writing starts? Or if it’s done as the author is writing? And how does the research change or enhance the story?
For me, I found I needed to conduct more research than first realized. I discovered along the way, how many details were required to satisfy my reading audience. So I had to stop and dig for info, dates, and details. In the process, I learned that history was often on the side of the story.
The First Example: British Indian Military’s use of Polo for Cavalry Training
As I researched the game of polo, I came to know that the British Indian military utilized the game of polo to train and prepare their cavalrymen. The agility of horse and rider working in tandem and moves atop a horse were just the right skills for warfare. In addition, building a strong relationship between horse and rider was equally important.
The Second Example: The Garment, Salwar Kameez, Worn by both Men and Women
The combined garment consists of the trousers as the “salwar” and the overshirt as the “kameez.” I thought it was worn only by men, but research illustrated the outfit as fitting both men and women. This made it an androgynous attire that fit Fiona’s work life and her preference for comfortable clothes.
In addition, a salwar kameez is made of cotton or linen fabric that both shades and therefore cools one, while simultaneously allowing the breeze through the open weave of the fabric. It serves as a symbol of a paradox, a “both/and” of allowing air in while keeping the sun out. (Yes, today, we know better, but in 1906 they did not.)
Third Example: The 1905 partition of West Bengal
As I did a history dive, the 1905 partition of West Bengal reared its head. The fallout that continued into 1906, the date in which my story happened, created much unrest and many factions that each wanted to respond differently.
In the midst of this civil unrest I anticipated that the Society of Religious Friends or Quakers would be involved. In this accompanying research I learned that indeed Quakers were split on the issue of how much they should get involved.
Fun Writing & Fun Reading
With those three examples of research that served my story, I let my imagination loose to fill in some unknown details. All the more fun in writing fiction.
I hope you will find Song of Herself as much fun to read as I had writing it.
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