Archive for October, 2019

The Rough Ride of Research

While writing the first draft of my current WIP,  questions popped in my abnormal writer’s brain. Would my hero be in this Ellis Island hall in 1919? Did all travelers work their way through the maze of humanity in that stage of their journeys? My hero is wealthy and elderly and she travels in first-class on an ocean liner from the UK. So, were all the classes required to present passports and be subjected to physicals?

At the top right of my screen there is a tiny line which is a favorite of mine. Some call it a minimizer. I call it, “don’t go away”, or “be there when I finish researching”. Also, another favorite, and I understand many think Wikipedia is a no-no, however, I find it to be helpful, although not the last word on any subject. This time I turned to my two favorites.

My WIP was saved, backed up,  and sent to “don’t go away”. I went to Wiki and asked about Ellis Island. I found deep in the article that the waters around the island in the early 1900’s were quite shallow and most steamers could not dock. The mighty and wealthy of first and second-classes were allowed to disembark in Manhattan and rarely did they need to be questioned by custom officers. The folks in steerage were ferried to Ellis Island.

Now what? I had created a fabulous scene in which my hero saves a young family from a difficult situation while she waits in those infamous long lines. I hated to give up that opportunity to show her compassion, wit, and courage. I was outraged. I wanted to keep it, but the gods of accuracy sat on my keyboard and glared at me.

I fooled them. I moved the situation to the ocean liner and my hero persevered.


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