Friday, 17 February 2012

Blitz Research

Last year I started writing a pocket novel intended for My Weekly and set during The Blitz in London. I did quite a lot of research and wanted the period detail to be as authentic as possible. I wrote about 32,000 words (the finished novel has to be 50,000 words), then ground to a halt. Why? I couldn't find out any details about dressmaking in 1940. Why didn't I make it up and carry on? My perfectionist tendencies often block me as a writer, as I've said before. I feel I have to get it right first time (hence my problems with the first draft of my crime novel), then get frustrated when I don't. Anyway, I'm determined to finish the pocket novel in the next couple of weeks. I've dug out my books about The Blitz and hope to find something to inspire me enough to finish this particular work-in-progress.

I dropped lucky this week in that an email from Rugby Freecycle landed in my Inbox offering an eight volume set of World War 2 Magazines published in 1972. Of course, the year they were published is also the year in which my crime novel is set. It felt like this was meant to be. I arranged to go and pick up the magazines yesterday (the person who got in first didn't turn up to collect them, so another bit of serendipity!). There are some great photographs in the magazines and they were worth getting for these alone. I find that photographs can be great a starting point for a story or an idea. I still haven't found that nugget of information to inspire me to continue with the pocket novel (and still don't know much about dressmaking in 1940), but maybe I'll plough on regardless. Sometimes you can sweat it too much.


Anonymous said...

I've been researching the War history of my hometown recently.

The BBC archive is a great resource if you haven't seen it. Loads of personal stories.

Freegling is great too. I've seen writing prompts just in what people are giving away or wanting.

Jo said...

Hi Wendy! Yes, I've looked at the BBC Archive and it is great. I hadn't thought about using what people are offering on Freecycle as writing prompts, but will now! Thanks for the idea.

JO said...

What do you need to know? I was brought up in the 1950s and my mother's sewing machine still works. I doubt if things changed too drastically in the few years after the war - email me if you think I can help.

Jo said...

Thanks, Jo! I'll certainly email you when I get back to the story. Working on something else at the moment. Will get back to The Blitz next week when the kids are back at school!

Lindsay said...

I don't know if this article will have anything useful:


Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I agree 'sometimes you can sweat it too much'. Why not just carry on and leave a blank spot for now? You can always come back to it later?