I started writing a new middle grade mystery this week. There are few things in my life that match the excitement of opening a document and starting a brand new manuscript.
Many writers love research and say they must make themselves stop the research to start writing. I am the opposite. I must force myself to do enough research so that I don’t leave glaring errors needing a major rewrite. This happened in my last mystery. I was so ready to start the new manuscript, that I relied on my memory of historical facts to write Clue #1 for the story. Lesson learned: Always check your facts, especially when Clues 2, 3, etc. are tied to Clue #1 in the story.
Where I went wrong: I could not remember which order the buildings were constructed that surround Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, one of my favorite neighborhoods. Just in case any blog readers might find this information helpful, here are the facts:
In 1788, a great fire broke out in the French Quarter on Good Friday, destroying eighty percent of the city’s buildings, including St. Louis Church. The building that would become known as St. Louis Cathedral was rebuilt on the same spot.
In 1849 and 1850, the Pontalba buildings that border Jackson Square (believed to be the first apartment buildings in the United States) were built. They did not exist in 1788 and could not have been damaged by the great fire.
This is the type of thing research can help with! What about you? Are you a research junkie or does the keyboard sing a siren song to you?