Prepping for Research
We’re late! We’re late! For a very important date! Or post on MGC, anyway. We are not late yet for taking off on a research trip, which is going to involve multiple museums, and a good chunk of the trail that Walt Ames is going to travel with some horses back in 1870-something (Peter could tell you the exact year. Just as he can tell you exactly who was in command of every little border post and fort, and when they left on the trip, so Walt Ames can do a deal that’s more amenable with their fill-in…)
If you ever thought hard scifi was a bear to research, and make sure your orbital mechanics and relative velocities were matched, you haven’t met western readers. If you have your hero use a gun that wasn’t out until two years later, whoa Nelly!
So we’re off to ground-truth the story, travelling the same path so he can see exactly where a hill, a dale, a camping spot, and a ford were. Fortunately, once people find a good route to travel, they generally don’t stray far from it. Not only are old roman roads modern highways in Europe, old cattle trails are modern highways (or byways) now.
Unfortunately, he’s not getting the entire novel’s trail in… his wife balked at 14-hour days in the car for multiple days. So it’s going to be shorter, with more museums, cafes, a ride on a railroad, and possibly a antique store or art gallery or five breaking up the miles.
Have you ever travelled to places to make sure you get it right in your story? Or picked up an activity, or cooked a dish, just so you can describe it right?
(Photo: Train wreck at Montparnasse Station, at Place de Rennes side (now Place du 18 Juin 1940), Paris, France, 1895. Wrong side of the world, somewhat close to correct time.)