I’ve written a little over 5,000 words on the untitled first book in my tentatively-titled Cactus Cowboys series so far. It’s going much slower than I thought it would. Not only is my writing muscle a bit flabby from lack of use, I’ve also discovered I didn’t do enough research before starting.
Remember how I wrote last month about reading the history of Arizona and visiting Empire Ranch? As it turns out, in the third scene, my hero takes a trip to Philadelphia to meet the heroine. Well, that wasn’t the reason for the trip, but it’s the consequence of it.
Taking my cue from the history of the Empire Ranch, I decided my hero needed an investor to help him buy the ranch land. But I had to come up with a way the investor had made his money, and that led me to have him live in Pennsylvania. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave my narration of why and how my hero got to Philadelphia at that.
As I started writing that scene, I discovered I had so many questions about Philadelphia in 1872. While I knew that the Arizona Territory was a lot more primitive than the Eastern states, I didn’t know any specifics.
For instance, my hero is waiting in a parlor to speak to his potential investor. What does that parlor look like? What kind of furniture would it have? What kind of decor? Would there be electric lighting yet or would they use oil lamps or candles? Almost every sentence required looking something up on the Internet.
Just when I was comfortable with the inside of the house where this scene took place, it was time for him to leave it. But how would he get from the house to the place where he was staying?
I was pretty sure he wouldn’t have ridden his horse from Tucson to Philadelphia. Stagecoaches and trains were in common use out west then. But if he didn’t have his horse and the automobile hadn’t been invented yet, how would he get from one place to another? Did they have public transportation of any kind? Or would there be a horse-drawn cab like Sherlock Holmes uses? It turns out Philadelphia did have horse-drawn streetcars, which seemed the right way to travel.
And then I found my hero in need of a new suit to court his lady-love. Did they have ready-to-wear suits back in 1872 or would he need to have a tailor make one from scratch? That led into a diversion into the history of department stores.
To be honest, I can’t wait for my characters to get back to Arizona, where I can use all I’ve already learned without so many fits and starts to find things out. But there are several more scenes to write before that happens.