Monday, August 26, 2013

Research:The Thrill of the Hunt

Once the story and characters start bubbling up, I begin the hunt known as research. Why? Because you never know where your research is going to take you. The initial research can authenticate locations, eras, maps, and buildings.  Focusing on places real to help create the imaginary is helpful. Even fiction or fantasy bursts from the page when a bit of truth is sprinkled among the make believe.

I use my computer, history books, and actual descriptions from individuals who lived or experienced the time period. I love to go to the location itself, if it is possible, to experience the sights, sounds, and smells. Sometimes I have to use my imagination. Sometimes a chair, a storefront, or a building sets the stage for a scene or perhaps the climax of the story. I like location trips because they give me a view from my characters' eyes.

If my story isn't contemporary, I try to find someone who lived during the time period. The current series I am writing calls for a description of a city in the West between 1962 and to the present time.
I have many neighbors and friends who have been great contributors. They fill in gaps. Give a perspective of the changing times and help me show them to my readers. The interviews are enjoyable.

Set up an interview in a restaurant or coffee shop where you can sit uninterrupted. I send the interviewee a list of questions specific to location, dress code, rules, morales and conduct, etc. This helps keep the interview focused.  My experience with interviews has been very profitable. My resources have given more information then I originally thought I needed while helping me scope my story and characters.

While shooting some pictures for another novel, a local teenager came upon my husband and I, she asked us what we were doing. I explained I was taking pictures of the area as I continued to write my novel. She enthusiastically responded, "My name is Dotty. Do you think you could make me a character in your book?"

Research doesn't have to be dull. It can be a bit adventurous and fun.  It is part of my planning and thinking sessions. It helps me when I hit a wall in scene or character development. When the plot begins to slog a bit, I look at my research notes and get new juice for my story. Research: It is multiple hunting expeditions that gives back in trophies.

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