Monday, August 1, 2011

Being There In Person

  There's nothing like being there yourself for a writer to get the flavor of a story's setting. I just returned from a vacation in San Diego County, where my current work in progress is set, and it opened my eyes to new facts and useful details. I've swapped one city for another that fits better for where the MC lives. Look out, keyboard, my fingers want to fly!
  I still might need something later on that I didn't capture by camera, notebook, or memory, and it's unlikely I'll get back there again soon. Even if you've never traveled to the location you're writing about, there are several research tools to help. Find an Internet or magazine photo that is a good representation of what you want to describe and tape it near your monitor. Check out Google Earth for both overhead shots and street views of real locations. Talk with someone who lives there. Then again, you might find places in your writing where the imagination is adequate enough to get it right.
  I read Rachelle Christensen's Wrong Number last year after having been to the ice caves that she describes in that book. When my perception of the place matched her descriptions, my mind's eye candy became even more delicious, more stimulating. That's what we're striving for.
  How do you make a setting or description come alive?


Betsy Love said...

Renae, I love to write about places I've been. It was a lot of fun to write about San Carlos, Mexico in my new novel, Identity. I had originally written it as ski trip, then realized I don't like the snow, and I've never been skiing.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Good idea to change it to something you like, Betsy. That way you're not always cringing writing the snowy spots.
From the blurb on the back, Identity sounds great. Hope I get to read it soon.

Toyin O. said...

Wrong number sounds like a great read, thanks for sharing.

Brenda Sills said...

Love this! I lived in San Diego mucho years ago when my husband was in the Navy. I should've had you say Hey to people we knew back in the day!

I don't get to travel too much but it's in my blood. Seeing other countries, peoples, spices of life has always been a passion of mine even though I hardly ever get to do it. But I love to read all sorts of things that immerse me in other cultures. Just like novels take me to another world, so can books about places I've never been.

When I was writing my first book which takes place mainly in 1965 and 1906, I had the time of my life reading old letters, magazines, atlases, books about people's travels from the period, catalogues, etc.

Thanks, Renae!