Weekend Writing – You Win Some, You Lose Some

A bittersweet weekend progress-wise.

While I didn’t make my intended target (which was to have two complete chapters written for Part II of Book II), I did get an extremely difficult chapter completed. You know those pivotal chapters that setup your whole novel? The ones heavy on exposition where every detail matters? Yeah, well, I got that one written. It’s a load off I can tell you. It’s all plain sailing from here on.

Aside from conquering that chapter, I spent a lot of time gaming, relaxing, and just chilling. I have a vacation coming in two weeks, and I think I really need it – I’m in need of more downtime on the weekends than I usually need. Even writing feels like work at the moment.

And now a question for my writerly friends; what do you do when you need to set your book (or part of it) somewhere you’ve never been before? Do you jump on The Google, check out some images, or buy a plane ticket and zoom off to get a look-see yourself? In my case, I have part of Book II set in the Carolinas – a place I’ve only breezed through while on vacation to the States. I have a reasonable idea of the environment, but boy I’d love some ‘on ground’ research… or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to get back to the States. As my pockets aren’t lined with gold, I’ll have to settle for a bucket-load if internet research.

What about you? How do you research your locations?

22 thoughts on “Weekend Writing – You Win Some, You Lose Some

  1. Google searches are a marvelous tool for writers in this age. You don’t have to have been there, you can google images of the place to inspire you. When I wrote “Rock And Roll Children,” two characters go to Brussels for a night. I’ve never been there so I focused on the fact that the characters who were American, got a budget hotel room and made friends by saying they were Canadian. When I wrote “He Was Weird,” I had an only fired an Uzi once before and that was thirty years earlier. A clip from Google re-familiarized me with it. So, with all my rambling, I think Google is a Godsend.

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  2. Other than the part of my WIP that is set in Hell (which I have only visited in a “Hell on earth” way), I always set my adult books in a place I have visited as I find it easier if I have some knowledge of the layout of the land. I also have to do a bucket of research though.

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  3. I read Audrey Driscoll’s book She Who Comes Forth which is set in Egypt. I about fainted when I learned she researched the place on the Internet. Her setting had such texture and temperature and colour! So yes, it’s totally possible to research a place without having been there.

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  4. I live in America but part of one of my books is set in New York–like you said, not made of money. Google Earth let me walk down the streets, check out the people, feel like I was there. Well, I still had to Google “What does the Hudson River smell like?”

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  5. Most of the time my settings (towns) are fictional although I set them in areas I know well (Pennsylvania or the eastern seaboard). It allows me to improvise to a degree. The single time I set a series in an actual location (Point Pleasant, West Virginia), I took two trips there for hands-on research. It was only a six hour drive which is a huge difference than an across the globe! In that case, it’s time for internet research!

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    1. I did that in my first book with the actual towns my characters invented, but in this book, we’re heading off to some actual places with a lot of history to them (quick spoiler, Roanoke Island in the time of the Lost Colony), so I need my research to be pretty spot on. I’d love to visit the site and walk it for myself, but as I said, there’s no trip to the States in my immediate future 😔

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  6. I Google or make up a place most of the time. I made a trip back to my home where I lived when I was little. That gave me the scene I needed for a short story I just finished. I added a dam and a huge boulder, but everything else was the same.

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  7. I have done both in the past but travelling overseas is a bit beyond my budget at presnt. I find watching tv shows and movies sent in locales similar to ones I want to write about is really helpful. I can get a sense of the colours,geography,plants and buildings that way.

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  8. Congratulations on getting through a difficult part. That’s always a load off my mind.

    I dive into Internet research. And if I know someone who’s visited or lived in an area, I pepper them with questions. (I’ve had lengthy discussions about Italy and Peru with friends and family, which really helped.)

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  9. Congrats on your progress, Jess! I stick to what I know (at least the general area) but I make up the town/city names. So I’m not much help. 🙂 I think you probably need to binge-watch a bunch of old western movies. If nothing else, it will be entertaining.

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