|In my 1928 California historical, this mansion came to play a big part|
All story genres take some research for establishing details in the setting. A few years ago, in 1997, I saw a movie called Inventing the Abbots. It was set in the 50's and they had the houses, the clothes, the young people--all as things actually were in the 50's. And then, lo, at the end of the movie a suitcase appeared, and it was 1997 suitcase and the mood was totally broken. Just like when, in About Schmidt, the house portrayed in Denver was frame. The city of Denver has brick houses--had them for years. Probably since the town suffered a horrible fire. It's always been that way. Someone didn't do his or her homework.
If the writer has done her research, her knowledge will inform the story and make it believable. Correct setting and details will even help the writer's ficticious leaps become believeable, because everything else will be. The most difficult research I've had to do was in the novel I just finished, one set in 1928 Southern California. The nineteen books I used for reference are still stacked on the bookcase. The books and perhaps 120-150 bookmarks on my computer where I found information I needed. I also had some original letters and my mother's scrapbook and photo album. Those were pure gold.
BUT IT WASN'T ENOUGH!
My husband and I spent a week in California doing on site research. I even found the house my mom had lived in the summer of 1928. I walked the streets of the town, and we poked around Pasadena. Historical museums are a goldmine of information. I read a newspaper clipping and the incident it described went right into my book. We drove into Arroyo Seco in Pasadena and I found a spot where I set a of couple scenes. A camera is a writer's best friend when doing research, and plain old note cards (I favor the larger ones) are a close second. In the photo above, I found a layout of the rooms and photos of most of them. Did I use the information I gleaned in my story? You bet I did.
When I researched my novel, Festival Madness, partially set at Burning Man, the blowing alkalai dust was so fericious even the use of a camera could be iffy, but the note cards were impervious to dust. And of course I put a duststorm into the book.
I researched World of Mirrors on an island in former East Germany. I wanted to hear what a big modern windmill sounded like, and we finally were able to park and walk right up to one. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! Like a big prehistoric bird flapping her wings and preparing to fly. How else would I have known?
The Internet is great, but it can only take you so far. Get out of the house, find your locale and discover everything. The little details are what make your writing believable. And, the best part is: it's fun!.
The bloggers listed below also have some great ideas on researching your story or novel. Take a look!
Rachael Kosnski http://rachaelkosinki.weebly.
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.
Heidi M. Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.
J Lynn Crain http://www.awriterinvienna.
Rhobin Courtright http://www.