Monday, October 13, 2014

Historical Research: Starting Points

When I started doing research for my latest book, A Different Kind of Courage, I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I wanted to set my story in Boston during the early part of the Revolution, but that was about it. Do you know how much information is out there about the American Revolution? An overwhelming amount. So how do you narrow down your field of research? Here are some tips.

Events or Culture? First determine whether your book is focused on the events of the time, or merely using the times as a backdrop for the story. If you are going to write a story about a boy who witnesses the Boston Tea Party, you will want to read an account of that event. If you are going to write about a girl who is living on a farm in Massachusetts in 1773, you might want to know some about the Boston Tea Party, but you will want to learn a lot more about farming during this time in history.

Which Historical Figures? If you are going to focus on events, you will most likely introduce some historical characters. I found it very helpful to focus on one historical character, and while researching that person, you can find out who crossed their path. This narrows the amount of people you have to research.

What was it like? Make sure you get some basics about daily life (clothing, food, etc.); these details, even if they are not prominent in your story, make it far more believable.

What did it look like and feel like? You want to make sure you research how the town looked, or they lay of the terrain. Average temperatures and what the weather is like can also be very helpful.

There you have it, some starting points for your research. 

Ready to dig deeper? Join me for the next part of my series on finding and using primary resources.


  1. Excellent post, Sarah! I'm definitely pinning this post to Pinterest for future reference. :-)

    His Princess,


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