I shared the stage with a mix of academics and writers, Mark Painter (m), Daniel José Older he/him, JR Dawson, and Roxanne Reddington-Wilde. This was my third panel of the convention. In some ways my most challenging. There is a lot to be said about the how and why of researching history. What does the author get out of the process? What's the correct relationship between the research and the needs of the story?
There were some lovely points made that are worth remembering. Daniel José Older compared the writing of history into a story to writing music: the historic details are the chorus. Both he and JR Dawson talked about the people history forgot, except perhaps in the footnotes, and the joy behind giving them a voice, and making them real again at least on the page. In some ways, you are immortalizing them. There is fluidity and flexibility in the process of choosing just right details to use, regardless of the likely massive amounts of research you might have done to prepare and build your world. There are many access points that you have to the story.
One thing I didn't bring up is a practical concern. If you are writing for yourself or self-publishing, the barriers between you and your audience are minimal, but that also means there are fewer trained people to help you refine your writer's voice and tell you what is and isn't working. So be careful. If the point of your story is to bring to life as accurately as possible to a beloved moment in time, then you run the risk of it creating a fascinating heuristic, which, while having great instructional value, may end up being less entertaining to a larger audience, because it misses the fundamental point of why we tell stories.
If you are writing to be seen by an agent and then editor, the more you can do to clarify the point of your story, the often discussed "third rail," the easier you will make it on yourself and on them. It's this emotional core that drives your story from scene to scene, moment to moment, from beginning to end. Knowing this will make it much easier in the revision and rewriting phase, which (IMO) is where the real writing truly begins. Instead of rewriting 100k words, you will only have to rewrite 30k.
One more thing about research. There are plenty of people whom you can reach out to who know more about a subject than you do. Academics love to talk about their work, and the ones who can do it well are often easy to find. Approach them with respect, don't be thirsty, and you will save yourself a ton of frustration, get insights from somebody who has had years to process the information and distill it down to really interesting insights. You may even make a new friend!
PS: Because I said I'd do it, here is a resource for writers wanting to accurately represent language, real or made-up (but mostly made-up). It's a great book and infinitely helpful: The Art of Language Invention by David J Peterson.
Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale is another great resource, but for completely different reason. It's ostensibly a grammar book, but in showing you the correct function of part of speech, Constance actually teaches you how to choose the just right detail. It approaches the problem sideways and I'm here for it.
Not my real name, but it does roll right off the tongue, doesn't it?