Monday, February 7

A first novel: Research

This novel begins in Nakuru during a riot. It spends two years in the bush before moving to Nairobi's slums. I like to think that I know some things about Kenya after spending nine months there, but I admit that of these things, of some importance to my novel, I do not know so much. I was not in Nakuru during the riots, and I only spent maybe two weeks total in the bush and another two weeks total in Nairobi, none of that time in the slums.

I have yet not done any research to change this, which, I guess, is understandable. This is, after all, only a very early draft. I don't want to be captured in the details national history and tribal quirks and force them in. I want words and characters and events on paper that I can respond to and develop into something better with time.

Less understandable, perhaps, is that I do not intend on doing any research at any point. I feel that I know enough of the details to make it real. The rest I will make up. The Nairobi slum will be fictional. The bush tribe will not because I would rely way too much on my experiences with the one tribe I know to create it, and it would be nothing more than the clearest imitation with only a few names and letters changed around.

Otherwise it's just about a family, staying alive and making your way in the world. How much can any amount of research help that? The rest is window dressing.

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? Forty.
Words? Twenty-nine thousand and thirty-four.
Named characters? Twenty-eight.

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