This last week, received the hardcover copy of my “remastered” debut novel, Under the Black Sand. Flicked through it. Read chapter one and the beginning of the second chapter.
Thought I’d share this with you. Two paragraphs, but the first one sets the location. One paragraph that explains what kind of a neighbourhood it is.
How can I explain the building period, style of houses, the gardens and how the streets are not straight? I’ve been there but merely describing what I saw would be boring. Instead, I read a thesis by a university student on the designing of this part of the city. An Icelandic man went to Copenhagen in the first years of the 20th century to study medicine, but his passion was city planning. He later abandoned his profession as a doctor to design this part of the city. Taking into account, where the sun was in the sky at different times of the year, what the prevailing wind directions were, he designed a neighbourhood that would be pleasant to live in.
I can’t remember how long the thesis was, but it was tens of pages and I read it from start to finish. Translated into one paragraph in the novel. Was it a waste of time? Should I have included more of what I learned? I don’t think so. Putting in too much technical detail will distract from the story, not having a thorough understanding of the subject you’re writing about, will make your story sound hollow.
Never underestimate research. It’s one of the most fun parts of writing, it expands your understanding of the world and makes your writing more believable.