Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A day to write...

I finally got a day to work on my book today. Not much writing, but lots of timeline-building, which is the backbone of this project. Everything else flows from knowing what happened when. Because, among other things, context is important.

Maybe that should be in all caps: CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT.

But that's not what I have on my mind today.

What I have on my mind is fact-checking, and it's perils.

For example, I've just been taking a list of films from 1945 and checking (mostly with the Internet Movie Data Base) to see exactly when during that year those films were released. And, predictably most of them have more than one date. This makes sense, since movies often have a New York City premiere and a Los Angeles (Hollywood) premiere. Sometimes, the premiere takes place somewhere else (there's one on this list that had its premiere in Washington, DC). However...

There is one film on this list, for 1945, that IMDB and Wikipedia agree premiered on November 3, 1944, although IMDB also lists a New York City premiere on January 26, 1945. Because I treasure accuracy and the full story (and because I can be a bit obsessive about research) I want to know what's up with the difference in dates. So far, I can't find anything to indicate why there is such a discrepancy. The Turner Classic Movies website only gives the release date as 1944 and says that information on the premiere is "not available". The little information box that comes up in the right-hand corner when you Google the film (which is "The Woman in the Window", directed by Fritz Lang) agrees with the January 1945 alternate date on IMDB as the release date. Rotten Tomatoes, on the other hand, agrees with the November 3, 1944 date.

It isn't that I haven't come across films before that have an early premiere and then are released more widely a significant amount of time later. But I rarely cannot find some story about why the lag between premiere and wide release occurred. This one is obviously going to take some digging.

It probably doesn't matter in the long run. There's no guarantee that I'll use the information in what I'm writing. In fact, chances are I won't use it. But now I want to know.

Ah, well. Even if I never do find out what the story is behind the disagreement in release dates, what I have learned from this particular little tour around the Interwebs is that I'm probably going to have to track this movie down and see it. I've got a weakness for film noir, and I've seen a couple of good reviews of it as I've been looking around for the real, authentic, and authoritative release date.

And meanwhile, I need to get back to my research. I had promised myself that I would be done with major research on this project by the end of March. Well, March was really busy and I was being extremely optimistic when I set that deadline. Well, it will get done, and I'm still far, far from the Tim Powers (if you aren't familiar with Tim Powers*, you should be, especially if you like reading urban fantasy) prescription for knowing when you're done with research. I was able to ask him one time when he knew when his research was done. His answer was, when he had been doing research for a year.

I'm only a couple of months into my research on this project, so I'm not worried yet.


*Tim Powers is a really good writer, one of my favorites. He writes fantasy, often urban fantasy. Start with Declare, like I did. Or with Last Call (which is the first volume of a loose trilogy, that also includes Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather. Or, if you like your fantasy a little less modern, start with The Drawing of the Dark. Or, if you want to start with something shorter, start with his novella A Soul in a Bottle. They're all good.

Really. This is good stuff.

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