As my first real venture out of the fantasy genre, this book that I've just started is the first project that required me to do real research. By "real research" I mean more research than randomly searching Latin names for things or figuring out how people actually go about throwing a knife. Usually, I'm not one to be all that interested in doing research (hence the tendency to stick to things I make up myself). Not only is research time-consuming, but also, in my experience, it's not always the most fascinating or enjoyable use of time. Research can also often suggest adhering to historical accuracy, which is something I'm typically not super entertained with (my brother, on the other hand, usually insists upon it and probably wishes I would do more historical projects).
This project, on the other hand, is a delightful discovery of research that is neither boring nor dependent on strict historical accuracy. The book is steampunk, so we're looking at a Victorian society not necessarily in the historical Victorian Era and how the world would work if technology never progressed past steam power. So my first priority in research was to learn about the Victorian Era, from the politics, to the technology, to the dress and fashion. Here's where the not-so-historically-accurate part comes in. Since this book is sort of dealing with an alternate course of history and society, I took my notes and highlighted them (color-coordinating for the win!) to determine which aspects I would keep as they were, which I wouldn't use at all, and which I would evolve (as if the Victorian Era hadn't ended by the 1900s). The things I kept the same were mostly core values about working hard and the common styles of the day (because Victorian dresses are cool). The evolved concepts were more complicated political and social things, such as the fight for women's rights, poverty, and expanding national power. These things were ideal for creating a society that is far from perfect, which sets the stage for some points I'd really like to make. Plus, who isn't interested in an unjust society that thinks they've fixed all their issues? This picking and choosing and twisting of history was what really made me enjoy the research.
The other part of the research was more scientific than historical. This book also will revolve around some concepts developed by Aristotle. The idea came to me during my physics class last year (I was clearly paying very good attention to the professor), so I had some basis of knowledge. I just had to develop that knowledge further and connect it to some other science stuff and the technology available in my particular setting. Again, research with practical application and some manipulation.
Main takeaways from this step of the project: 1.) It's possible for research to be interesting. 2.) I really, really enjoy learning about history just to change it (sorry, brother dearest).