Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Y is it sooo hard to write Historical YA?

So, I just ordered Fever 1793 from Laurie Halse Anderson and will read it soon to get a grasp on how historical YA should be written. WHY? Because she is a freakin' awesome author, and because I am trying to work on a historical YA novel of my own! It is going to be about a 15 year old boy who's 18 year old brother goes off to fight in World War I- all while Spanish influenza (the disease that killed more people than the Black Plague) comes on the scene and spreads rapidly! I am having a little trouble writing it though. WHY?
First, stop asking so many questions!

But if you must know, it's because I am too lazy to look up information. Every time I type a sentence, I have to pause and think- hmmm, did they have *insert random object here* OR did they say *insert brilliant line here* back then? Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love history and I LOVE researching. But when I just want to write, I don't feel like researching at the same time.

So...here is my question, if you are writing historical YA (even if you aren't your advice would be great!), do you get your words out and fact check later? OR do you do all the research first and then base your story from there?


  1. In any writing, I know what you mean about not wanting to stop to look it up. So I put questionable words in all caps and boldface. Then when I'm ready, I do my research.

  2. Great post! I truly think you should just write the story first. Get the story out there. Once that's done, then scrutize it for accuracy. I agree with Wendy--highlight the areas that you need to research for later. There, now can you stop worrying and just get to work? Me wants to read it!

  3. Me likes your enthusiasm, Pam :) And thanks ladies, I will def. take your advice b/c I want to get it written already!

  4. I write YA fantasy and I still have that problem, because my book is set in Ireland, a place I've never been, and revolves around a culture I made up, so I'll stop and think - "wait, do they say that in Ireland? Would *these* people say that in Ireland? Is that what the weather's really like?" Etc., etc.

    My problem is that if I look up everything little thing, I end up distracted on some Irish slang website instead of writing. I try to only stop to do research if it is something that, if I write it and it turns out to be culturally inaccurate, might required significant effort to fix. If it's just dialogue or whatever, I let it go until I'm ready for that part of my editing (althought highlighting is a good idea, Pam).

    BTW, your book sounds fascinating - I would read something like that in a HEARTBEAT!

  5. Hee hee :) Thanks Abby- and yours sound interesting too! Ireland seems like such a cool place to set up a novel. I agree about looking every little thing up, I was researching what the phones looked like in 1918 and got distracted by all the pretty phones...sad, sad state of affairs.