A Killer Detail: Breaking Eggs

When a character in a historical novel looks out the window—well, what kind of window is that? Does it have shutters or panes, is it transparent or opaque, is there a window at all? Soon after I began to work on my historical novel, questions like this sent me on days-long quests before I could move my characters forward. Sometimes I just had to make an educated guess and move on, hoping I’d find the exact answer later, during rewrite. Many of those vital details were lost throughout history because contemporary people didn’t think it was worth recording such minutia, the way we don’t paint detailed pictures of the subway in today’s novels. But those are the details that make all the difference now between a realistic historical setting and a staged one. Continue reading