Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

How do you write about something when research fails? Fake it? Maybe


How do you write about something when you can’t figure out how to do the research, or you simply cannot find information you need?

If you’re writing non-fiction, you could have a problem; with fiction, happily, you can just make it up.

I was thinking about these things today related to a story idea in which prenatal multivitamin tablets play an important role. (No, I won’t give the idea away here. I’m still working on it.) The important fact in my case is that the story idea is set in the 1950s in small-town America. At first, I doubted that there were such critters as prenatal vitamins around in 1950s small-town America. But a quick glance through Wikipedia tells me (be careful of relying on Wikipedia, I know) that multivitamins became available in pharmacies and grocery stores as early as the mid-1930s. So what about specific compounds known as “prenatal vitamins” — how early were they around? Would it be risky to use the phrase “prenatal vitamins” or “prenatal multivitamins,” etc., in the 1950s?

I can’t decide. I’m going to look around some more, both online and off line because it now has my curiosity kicking in big time. Most likely, I’ll avoid using the word “prenatal” and just talk about something generic like “vitamins” or “vitamin tablets.” Still, though, it’ll mean tweaking my original story idea a bit more than I’d like.

Now, if I were writing articles such as those mentioned in my last two posts that focused on prenatal multivitamins as keywords, I could have a problem if the history of them came into play. But that’s a different matter.

Wonderful to have the latitude and license of fiction writing, isn’t it?