Research is crucial to any historical novel. Dates have to be right or someone is bound to notice. Not the average reader, but the pedantic one who will take the trouble to check up on every detail. I planned on opening my second WW1 novel with the siege of Antwerp and the military evacuation which began on 5th October 1914. That would give me an exciting start to the story. But I also needed to work in a meeting between Commander Smith-Cumming (head of the Secret Intelligence Service) and one of his agents. That had to happen before Cumming had his bad car accident on the evening of 2nd October. How could I start with something exciting when the first thing to happen was a meeting? The answer came with a bit more research. Churchill was then First Lord of the Admiralty and he was sent to Belgium to see what could be done to help the defence of Antwerp. He was there about the time Cumming had his accident and he went out to the front to see for himself what was going on. When the Belgian troops were retreating in disarray and his vehicle was trapped in the melee, Churchill took it upon himself to try to bring about some discipline. There was my starting point, action close to the front line.