When writing a novel, especially one set in – or nearly in – the real world, there is a point when Just Writing is no longer possible. All those little details you can skirt around in a short story suddenly reach a critical mass, and it becomes impossible to continue without establishing a number of minor points, such as:
- What exactly is your character’s name?
- How old is she?
- Okay, okay, but what I meant was: In what year was she born?
- Uh huh, but what month?
- But it is important! I mean, have you even figured out what year and month, maybe even day, the story is set in?
- Fine, have it your own way, but don’t come crying to me when readers figure out that her birthday and age do not match. Or that you’ve sent her to work at Alexander Wilson in 1858, not realising that Alexander Wilson started business in 1875 not 1857 (darn typos). And you do realise, don’t you, that a detailed map of London in 1893 is not a useful reference for London in 1858…
- Well that’s really not my problem, is it. Go do your own research.