What to do and who to do it to…and where to do it

This is what I needed to figure out before getting fully into my next book.  For a few weeks I’ve been researching three different time periods in the same town, trying to figure out the following things:

The socio-economic level of my protagonist–(there are three distinct historical experiences (socio-economically speaking) in the town I’m using and I could get excited about all three.  Actually, all three will come into play, but I need to place my protag in one or the other or the other.

The essence of the character–I have two distinct female characters in mind–one can play a secondary role or star in the next book, but I needed to choose one.

Historical Backdrop–There are three time-periods that are especially, historically important. I’m interested in all three so I needed to narrow it down.  Making this decision would also help me define my main character and play into her socio-economic status.


I’ve finally done it. Everything is narrowed down and neat and tidy and I’m ready to begin the process of collecting artifacts and information pertaining to my people and their town.  And, unlike the setting of the current book that’s in the hands of my agency, this town is close enough that I can even visit it…

Anyway, progress was made and that is never bad. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss plot–for while the backdrop plays into plot and will be a character in itself, the backdrop alone is NOT plot.

Don’t roll your eyes. I used to think it was.

Go Pens!



7 thoughts on “What to do and who to do it to…and where to do it

  1. This is very interesting. I recently paralyzed my progress by researching too much. But living near the town is key, since you can go there and smell the smells, feel the wind, take off your shoes and walk the fields. For an old-west project, I was seriously considering a vacation to Kansas for a ride on an old-fashioned covered wagon over an existing trail. It takes confidence in what you are describing.

  2. Hi Scott, I have read a lot about research paralyzing people, but so far that hasn’t been a problem for me. I sort have a rolling research thing going, as I work through each draft. Actually, my writing process has changed so much over the last few years that I don’t feel too stressed about engaging in the research end of it because I’m always figuring out how the info folds into my story and if I don’t need something I toss it away right then. I think it will be neat to visit this particular town, but I don’t feel as though I can’t alter things…

  3. I am so happy to know I’m not the only one who has to trim down what to write about. I start out with far too much material and end up concocting a confusing mish-mash. And I didn’t roll my eyes: I’ve definitely made backdrop stand in for plot and I didn’t even realize I was doing it at the time!

  4. Hey Mary, no problem–one extreme, no posts allowed through–to the next–wordpress is doing double time for you! It is amazing what a person can understand in her head vs what comes out on paper as far as plot goes.

  5. Interesting post, Kathie. Regarding which socio-economic group to place your protag in, I’d go with the one who will face the most challenges as a result of her social class. Will a middle class girl find herself lost among the uppers? Will the upper class woman fall in love with a member of different social standing (I know, that plot’s been done to death)? Or is there some mistaken identity where she is of one socio-economic group but, for one reason or another, is thought to be of another? And, as a result, will she be stuck in that stereotype with no way out?

    When it’s not your own book, this type of brainstorming is fun! When it belongs to you, it can be overwhelming!! Good luck with it!

  6. Hi Kathie, I finally remembered to visit your blog. I’m happy to see you’re on to your next book!

    Can I make a really philistine observation … ? *g* I was just thinking when it comes to deciding which socio-economic group in which to place your heroine, one factor you might want to weigh in, sale-ability-wise (ok so that’s not a word) is just that a lot of readers seem to prefer stories that focus on the highest socio-economic levels, no matter what class the female protagonist actually hails from. I’ve noticed that from the Jane Austen movies to HBO’s “Rome” series to “The Tudors” and many historical works from Phillippa Gregory to Ken Follett, audiences seem to really prefer dallying among the wealthy in their reading (at least for the main plot and the main settings) with just a quick visit among the lowly folk. This may or may not work for the story you have in mind; it’s just a marketing perspective to toss out there.

    But I think you’re smart to studying all 3 of these levels you mentioned because having subplots or character threads taking place in the other 2 levels aside from your main plot will create a story with wonderful texture and realism. Well, those are my two cents, and thanks for letting me share them! Good luck with the book! 🙂


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