I am working on the fourth draft of my romantic-suspense novel - The Rajput.
A little about The Rajput:
What happens when someone's hobby leads to the death of a family member. Hidden secrets from history and a complicated family - will these get in the way of two people who are falling in love despite all the odds stacked up against them
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Why I needed to research
The Rajput has a significant element that comes with some history. It required me to do some research on Indian trade around 1668 and after that. This is the period when India was a French colony. Without giving away the critical suspense point of the novel, I needed to brush up on my history and read and understand trade during that period and how India was looted. The history nerd in me was so excited!
So, I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.
I needed a few things cleared before I started the actual research process.
1. What I needed to know
Just like character backstories, I found that with the research I too would need more information than I would include in the actual story.
2. What my readers expect to know while reading the novel
It was important for me to understand that while I would research a lot of things some of it would purely be for my understanding and only what propels the story and what the reader needs to know will be included in the final draft.
3. A fixed amount of time for research
I gave myself a time limit for research, after which I had to start writing. As I wrote the first draft, I needed to fill in some gaps, so I went back and researched some more to fill that gap. This way, I avoided getting sucked into the black hole of research.
Where I researched
Starting from 1505 when the Portuguese gave to India, then the Dutch India, the Danish, right up to when the East India Company came to India and set up the Company rule in 1757. The influence of French revolution from 1789 to 1799 on their colonies, and thus on India.
I was researching just one tiny bit in this sea of information. So, I needed to focus on just what I needed for the story. (which was so hard to do some times.)
There are so many things that are lost in history. And while it is sad because you never really get to know the whole story, but as a writer that is a mine of endless possible stories. And so I found the nugget I needed to turn borrow a little from history and spin a tale of fiction.
With the nature of the topic that I needed to research; I did my research entirely on the internet. I used some online libraries and a lot of historical data available on the public library website. It was challenging at times because the Indian libraries are not really user-friendly and a lot of information is just not available online. But because of the nature of the information I needed, I could get away with the little information that was there. (When I say little, I mean about 75 pages of research which consisted mostly of links to articles, big, lengthy articles.)
How I arranged/sort/store my research
This was the biggest challenge that I faced. There were a lot of text data, charts, images, and links that I needed to keep handy. Keeping everything organized and sorted became a concern.
I use the scrivener to write the first two drafts of my novels, and that is where all my research was filed.
I have created a system to file the images and charts and link them to the text and the link to the reference websites.
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