How many times a week — or even each day — do you snag one off the roll? I do it all the time and never gave it a second thought … until I found myself writing about it in my novel.
Here’s the scenario. My character is cooking breakfast and takes bacon out of the skillet. My automatic step is to put the bacon (or sausage) on paper towels to drain. But as soon as I wrote that, I wondered if that’s what my character would have done. After all, my story takes place in 1900 so there are a lot of differences between what people had then and what we have now.
Google to the rescue! Once I started researching I learned that paper towels as we know them weren’t invented and available in households until around 1907. I found the same information in several places, so felt like it must be on the right track.
My guess is that people would use some other type of cloth instead, but I had spent enough time tracking down paper towels and needed to get back to actual writing (that’s one of the hazards of loving to research – it can take you all sorts of places that might be fun but don’t add words to the story). End result: my character simply puts the bacon on a plate to drain.
That’s the beauty of writing a historical novel and delving into research to ensure your story is accurate – you just never know what interesting thing you might learn. Think about that the next time you tear off yet another paper towel to help with quick clean-up or drying.