I use a lot of reference materials and I thought I’d share them with you.

The Writers and Artists Yearbook – not only a very useful list of agents and publishers, it’s also crammed full of useful advice such as how to lay out a manuscript and how to write a query letter

Your library – first of all, to research the kind of fiction you want to write. Second, for reference books. You can even get some really obscure books (you may have to pay a small fee if they have to be ordered from another library). If you’ve no idea where to start ask the librarian. Most reference books are indexed so it’s easy to find the information you need.

Your library computers also have access to all sorts of useful research sites you can get elsewhere, for free. For example, Ancestry allows you to access it for free from a library computer and you search a census or for photos.

You can also access newspaper archives from library computers – if you’re looking for eyewitness accounts, pictures, trial reports have a look at these – they go back centuries. The advertisements are fascinating. Don’t forget to take a look at the letters page for a real voice from the people.

Wikipedia. People say don’t use Wikipedia, go to the library instead. Well, if you’re writing at 3am, and we all do it, that’s not really an option. It’s probably not the best place for in-depth analysis, but if all you want is to find the date Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves, it’s perfect.

Documentaries and podcasts. Have a good look through Netflix, the BBCiplayer site, any TV site. They’re uploading a lot of documentaries from years ago and they can be very useful. There’s also a lot of really good podcasts for history and crime and science out there.

Research is always really fun, and I always discover something – lots of things – that I had never thought of before during it. If you get something wrong, someone will pick up on it, so do your research -but enjoy it.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad


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