On taffeta—research and the writing life

4,438. That’s how many words I’ve written so far in the second draft of “A Prince in Patience Point” (formerly “Be True). This story has grown from a quick, shorter piece into something longer, though I’m not quite sure how long yet. Maybe a longer novella. Maybe a shorter novel. In any event, it’s changing, and I’m excited to be working on it. In addition to my word count, I’ve done some character background work and some world-building. And I’m getting back into the swing of things with social media.

photo by Jenny Kaczorowski, WANA Commons
photo by Jenny Kaczorowski, WANA Commons

One of the most amusing parts of the writing life is the randomness that we get to research. Today, for example, I got to research the history of taffeta. I now know what the word means (it’s Persian for “twisted woven”). What I was specifically looking for was when it started being used. Part of my story is set in a Regency-esque fantasy world, and I want the details to be as true to that period as possible (with the addition of magic and dragons, of course!). I’m going to be moving later this summer, and I’m teaching in the fall, so my goal is to finish this story by late July. I doubt I’ll finish it before this round is up.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

What about you? What project are you working on this summer? What odd things have you had to research as a writer?

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at www.denisedyoungbooks.com.

18 thoughts on “On taffeta—research and the writing life

  1. Pre-gummed envelopes, that’s what I was researching last night. And the weather reports for Omaha, NE in early 1915. I love the internet!

    Wishing you good progress between now and the end! 🙂

    1. I know. I love that we have all of this information at our fingertips. My story isn’t a Regency (the fantasy world is just Regency-inspired), but I’m enjoying looking up clothing–which includes random research such as the history of taffeta. How great is it that we have access to things like weather reports from 1915?

      You too! 🙂

  2. Oh, gosh, yes, research is so much easier now that we have the Internet — and Wikipedia! My research used to involve biking to the library regularly and keeping out-of-print books on loan as long as possible. now a lot of that info is available just googling!

    (And I love those random facts too. *g*)

    1. Yeah, I can imagine how difficult it would be to find even the simplest factoid without the Internet. Google, Wikipedia, etc. … they really streamline the process!

  3. The last thing I researched was DIY stain remover (for laundry). I wanted to find out the ingredients and what was their role in the remover. It was so I could make an alchemy potion and substitute sciency bits (like hydrogen peroxide and dawn dish soap) for fantasy stuff (unicorn urine and an aloe like plant’s gooey inside), but still know why they worked (beyond “magic”). It made sense to me at the time. Not so much now that I explain…

    I wish you luck getting this WIP done before the move and all the craziness hits full swing. Keep up the great work!

    1. I love the random things we get to research. I like the way you’re approaching the potion. It will give a fantasy element a touch of realism. Happy writing, Gloria!

  4. Working on Love in Ferns (the working title). I also have a novel draft to finish round 1 edits. The love in Ferns feels like it could be a longer story, maybe a novella. But I want to write the flash fiction piece and maybe submit it by months end.

    Lately I have researched cloud types. 🙂

    1. Love the title, even if it is currently just the working title. I love it when a story grows like that. I wrote a novelette-length story (about 15K) that I’m expanding to novella length–my current goal is between 30K and 35K.

      Good luck with your longer story and your flash fiction piece. Will you be sharing excerpts of either on your blog?

      I suspect that one of these days I’ll need a refresher course on different cloud types, too. 🙂

  5. That is so cool! I’ve researched all kinds of different stuff for novels, the most notable being the Iron Lung and mind control/brainwashing. I love the internet. I remember when there wasn’t an internet, and I had to go to the library and check out books for research. Our world has really changed (and I’m probably giving away my age but whatever….)

    Good luck with the WIP and taffeta!

    1. Interesting topics. I bet there’s plenty of story fodder there, and readers will enjoy reading about those topics, even in a fictional setting. We can learn so much from books, fiction or nonfiction. One of the best parts of fiction is the way it lets us experience different places and time periods. We can go back or forward in time; we can travel across the world or the galaxy–all from the comfort of our living room.

      Yes, the Internet has definitely sped up the research process. Now we don’t have to pull a book off the shelf and look something up in the index, or sift through a card catalogue at the local library. We can just “Google” it.

      Thanks, Erin!

    1. Thanks! I always feel like I could be pushing myself even harder. I admire people who write eight or ten hours a day–I don’t think I could manage that on a daily basis. But as long as I’m making steady progress, I’m happy with that. 🙂

  6. I had no idea that Taffeta was originally from Persia! I like that it means twisted woven, I’m guessing it refers to the particular technique of making the fabric… It’s always fun to research little tidbits like that.

    1. Me either. Just another random factoid picked up on the writer’s road. Mostly I just needed to know whether it was in use during a specific period (Regency), but I learned a whole lot more. Research can be so much fun!

  7. Within the last months I’ve researched saying various things in Japanese, Russian, and Swahili; absinthe history, effects, preparation, consumption, addiction, and mythos – complete with that lovely excusion into the world of absinthe spoons! -; opium production, addiction, consumption, and overdose; transgender and bigender issues; Parkinson’s disease; congestive heart failure; micro-prematurity; venomous snakes of the Everglades; effects of cottonmouth and coral snake envenomation; Shakespeare quotes; thorwing on a potter’s wheel; and I’m sure a good many other things I can’t quite remember now…

    I love being able to research quickly, for rough drafting, but how it feeds ideas for delving more deeply later….

    May you delight in the research, and the writing – I’m going to let my mind play with the phrase ‘twisted woven’ for a while, because it wants to! =D

    1. Shan Jeniah, that’s quite a list. You definitely have me beat on the research front. 🙂 And now I’m really curious about the stories you’re working on and how those items tie into your fiction.

      I’m guessing “twisted woven” has something to do with the way the fabric is made, but I didn’t go that in-depth in my research. But maybe I will…

  8. Yay 4438! And character background and world-building. You killed it this week. Love taffeta. Isn’t research fun? I am cheering you on Denise. Get that re-write done before the move girl! No pressure. lol. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen. One of the best parts of writing is the random information we get to learn about during the process. We get to research our craft–how to write snappy dialogue, how to pen a query letter or synopsis–but we also pick up all these nuggets of info along the way. It’s definitely fun!

      Happy writing! 🙂

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