Just The Facts, Please

Research for my novel-in progress The Syndicate of Eternal Friendship takes too long. You’re probably thinking I make up all this stuff, but I don’t. Even though I was there, it’s still a historical novel, and I have no idea what program came on after Beverly Hillbillies, what pre-hippie girls thought were hot styles in the spring of 1965, or how much hashish could fit in a carved-out book. I have to look it up.

When Paulie takes apart that old radio he’d better sound like he recognizes the gear inside and knows what it does, so I have to learn enough about old radios to snow you, gentle reader.

Research. Why bother? This is a story about three friends, not a documentary about the Sixties. But it has a few fantasy elements mixed in too, so I want the rest of the story to feel pretty realistic. Besides, it’s interesting and I think it gives a story more flavor.

So I just signed up for a course offered by my local community college called ‘Research For Writers’. I want learn some tricks to find this trivia faster. It’s an on-line course. I will never see the instructor or my fellow students. But it’s still pretty good. I’m learning already.

For instance, I found out that facts change. Funny, but I always figured a fact is a fact is a fact. If it can change then it isn’t really a fact. The composition of a water molecule is two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. That’s a fact. Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. Nothing can ever change it because that’s a fact.

But on the pre-course quiz – I got that answer wrong. The teacher says facts change. What is with this lady? Then I woke up thinking about it and I could see she was right.

I started making a list of facts that used to be true but are no longer:

You can get arrested in this country for drinking whiskey.
The Beatles are the number one pop group in the world.
Yugoslavia is a country in Europe.
Meet my girl friend, Martha Gobblesteen.

You get the picture. They all used to be true, except for the part about Martha. Interesting, huh? Or maybe you already knew that.


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