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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Can too much research kill a story? by J. S. Marlo

I started writing a new series Unraveling the Past, and as the name suggests, it takes place in the past. The first book of the series Misguided Honor takes place in Nova Scotia in 1941. It’s the first time I write an historical novel...or a ghost.
When I lived in Nova Scotia decades ago, I heard the legend of a ghost haunting a special building. Back then the legend fascinated me, so I thought one day I’ll write a story around it. Well, that day has finally come.
Before I begin writing, I searched for the origin of that legend. Well, not only didn’t I find any reference to it, but the facts I gleaned about the building differ substantially from the legend. To my great disappointment, I was forced to admit to myself that there might not be much truth behind that legend and that reality check made me pause.
The story I had in mind no longer held any grip with history, so where do I go from there? Do I still use the real building in the real town in Nova Scotia or do I create a fictional town? While the later gives me more artistic freedom, it also changes the impact of the story as this little town in Nova Scotia is full of history, just not the history I was hoping to delve into.
I wrote the first chapter last week then life happened and I had to take a few days off. I opted for the real town, but I’m not convinced yet it was the right choice. Once I reread it, I’ll decide if I like the feel of it, but regardless of my decision, I will write that story. The research, though contradicting, didn’t kill my story, but it made me rethink it.
Misguided Honor might not turn out exactly how I had planned, but in the end, I like to believe it will make it that much better. Still, I can see how research can send a muse for a spin, making her dizzy and confused.
I hope my muse will eventually forgive me.

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