Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.


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Research: More than just a history lesson?

Let’s face the facts:

Growing up, just about every one of us had to take history as a class during our education. A lot of us thought it was boring – not necessarily because history is boring, but because most history teachers aren’t the best when it comes to bringing the history to life.

We want to really see how things were. Rather than somehow try to bring some life to the class, most history teachers just drone on and on and on. In the end, that makes us hate even the most exciting historical events.

I love history and am always dying to learn more about our past. Now, you might say that that’s just because I’m a writer and need to know these things for my books. That’s not true. I genuinely study history and languages and mythology in my spare time because I enjoy it and am fascinated by all these things that happened and legends and native tongues.

That brings me to my next point. When someone says “history”, a lot of people just think about memorizing dates of significant events and countless names of participating people. That’s wrong. It’s what history class at school makes it seem like, but it’s wrong.

Like I mentioned before, there are more things that tie into history. Yes, there’s the obvious, but just look at what else you can learn about:

  • Significant events: Why they happened, how they happened, who participated in them, and what the consequences were. It’s a lot more interesting to study when you’re not being forced to memorize dates and names for tests.
  • Languages: Language evolves over the years. As a language fanatic, I find it absolutely enthralling to progress from the old tongue to what the language is like today. Think of it as Archaic England and Modern English, just with other languages. It fascinates me.
  • Mythology: This ties into history, believe it or not. There are always reasons for the creation of mythological tales – real, genuine reasons. They aren’t all random scribbles some old man wrote in his dying years. No, there is a history behind them and a reason to how these myths came to existence.
  • Politics: Most people dread this more than they do history. Again, it ties into the past and it can be interesting to see how political power changes. Politics doesn’t mean just the modern politics; my favorite to delve into is royal families. Not only is it interesting to learn about, but also a great topic to use for fantasy stories.

There is more. There is much more that ties into history and to list it all this post would be pages upon pages long. In the end, the thing to remember is that, even if you hated it in school, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at it now that you’re free from that. Learn at your own pace, in your own way.

That’s the best way to make sure that you enjoy it.

So, for writers: The next time you’re dreading doing research for your novel or story, remember that research is much more than a history lesson.

It’s life.

If you enjoy history, what do you like learning about? Any specific countries?