Truth in Fiction

Have you ever read a book and found a factual inaccuracy that just threw you out of the story? I have and it makes me crazy. I don’t ever want that to be my book.

I’m writing historical romance novel set in World War II Charleston and I’m now in the middle of the burning pit of research. I wrote the first draft of this novel almost two years ago and I wrote it quickly, very quickly. I didn’t worry about getting my facts perfect. I just wrote until I finished.

Now, I’m paying the price. Sigh. It isn’t the big stuff. I’ve been studying World War II most of my life. The little stuff is the problem. Did Charleston have a USO? What color “covers” did sailors wear? I’ve seen pictures of sailors from the time period. I have seen pictures of sailors wearing white covers and pictures of sailors wearing blue covers. Why two colors? What is the difference between the two? Hopefully I will find the answer soon before I go nuts.

Some fun facts about World War II found during my research:

  • The first wounded American soldiers from the North Africa campaign returned to the US via Charleston. I will use this bit of information in a later book.
  • The Charleston Naval Yard was the third largest industry in the state by 1941. The Naval Yard expanded even further once the US joined the fight after Pearl Harbor. Again, this information will be useful in a later book.
  • If a sailor’s ship sank due to enemy action, that sailor got 30 days leave. Yea! For not having to almost kill my hero to get him back to Charleston.

Charleston is an excellent place to set a novel….especially during the war years. It was a wild and wooly place with beer joints, prostitution, and historical traditions that cannot be mimicked by any other place. Accurate information gives a novel depth. Hopefully, my information will be accurate enough and in time for the conference. Oh…and one more thing, field trip to Charleston before October!

Are you struggling with your research?

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One Response to Truth in Fiction

  1. Great post! Most of us struggle with research and it's nice to know we're not alone. It is important to me, as a reader, to see factual accuracy. But at the same time, I don't want a history lecture.

    You're obviously well on your way to a great story and I can't wait to read it.

    Historical fiction writers have a tough job. Thanks for vowing to do it well so the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the ride.

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