This post was orginally published on September 12, 2010.
This is probably not the best system, but whenever I get to a point in the writing where I need to verify something, I put a note to myself in ALL CAPS so that I can look it up later. It’s not a great system because the notes are not always easy to find.
I went to bed last night worried that I’d send my full manuscript out to an agent with a note like this one still in it: (WOULD THE BEARS EVER PLAY THE LIONS IN THE PLAYOFFS?) I still haven’t figured out the answer to this, so if anyone knows, let me know.
Other stuff I did find, easily thanks to Google, were questions like:
– What is the river that flows through Munich? (the Isar – which happens to be where Hermann Goring’s ashes, among other Nazis, are scattered)
– What is the name of a German military transport truck from WWII? (the Opel Blitz seems to have been the most common)
– What was the name of a widely circulating newspaper in Munich in 1941? (the Voelkischer Beobachter)
Really, I don’t know how people wrote historical fiction (or any kind of novel for that matter) before the advent of Google.
Most Google searches will lead you directly to Wikipedia, which I will look at for some basic orientation, but I always then ‘regoogle’ whatever Wiki has told me so I can verify the same information somewhere else.
I also found something really cool in a book on German genealogy at my public library. The book just happened to be shelved next to the table where I was working, and as this topic is highly relevant to my story, of course I had to flip through it. Apparently when a “line is extinct” in a family, no descendants, they put a pair of crosses next to the name of the last male in the line. I decided to have Agnes find these double crosses next to her grandfather’s name in a book of records in Munich. Of course, if she’s supposed to be this man’s granddaughter, the pair of double crosses couldn’t be right, but there they are. You just have to read on to the next chapter don’t you??? I hope so.
So sometimes my bits are on purpose and sometimes they just roll into my field of vision and I fold them in somewhere. Either way, every time I find one, I like figuring out where it can aid the verisimilitude of the story and ultimately make the read even more fun.