A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing…Not to Mention a Big Time-Sucker


Important writing tip: research is critical. Time-consuming. Fascinating. And did I mention that it’s critical?

Did you know that the Japanese Zero was a very cool, sleek plane? Neither did I. I just imagined a shadowy fighter jet with a big red sun splashed somewhere on the body and toting along a little (but fiercely determined!) Japanese airman. Had no clue that the plane was actually a very nimble, very powerful threat against Allied air and sea power in the Pacific.

Yes, I realize that that’s not exactly news to anyone remotely interested in World War II aviation, but it’s just one more piece of absolutely enthralling information as I conduct research alongside my writing.

It’s tough, doing the writing simultaneously with the research. What I’m basically doing is writing the bones of the story, much like a script, with bits of sinew and a touch of fat thrown here and there gleaned from the research. I’m afraid that if I do all the research first, I’ll never actually write. (An incredibly common phenomenon among writers that does nothing to cure writers’ block.)

Of course, the Pacific War is such a massive, complex event that even narrowing it down to the events on the Malayan peninsula is still a daunting exercise. Plus, I’m anxious to include as much detail as possible to add to the “authenticity” of the story, and that involves plenty of digging digging digging.

Anyhoo, now that the bloody war is in full swing (the Japanese have now invaded Malaya, which of course is the beginning of the end for Singapore as far as the war is concerned), the need for detail has exploded as I now need to keep track of Japanese and British military movements across the peninsula, dates, war materiel, installations, personnel numbers, casualty statistics, not to mention strategies and policies being issued from London. Thank God I enjoy this stuff, but it sure does slow down the writing.