Researching your Setting

Aug 26, 2011

So the wonderful thing about my family vacation this year (from a writing standpoint, anyway) was that it served the dual purpose of being a research trip for my book.

I like to do a little on-site research for my settings whenever possible, such as the trip to Dugway military base I took for Devolutionaries. (If you want more details on how to conduct effective on-site research, that post has some pointers.) In The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, there is a red-rock canyon that serves as an important place for several scenes. I'd been to canyons like this before, but I wanted a little refresher. And boy, was it refreshing.


My canyon isn't quite as magnificent as Zion National Park, but you get the idea. :)

AND not only did I get in some family fun time and some research, I also finished my second draft. Woot! I gave the story a few day's rest, and I'm now plugging away at revision number three. Yay for progress.
So, my friends, have you ever done on-site research for your writing? Do you like to base your settings on real places, or make them up completely? How are your own writing projects coming?

19 comments:

Summer Ross said...

I like doing a little of both. take the real idea and make it a new place. :) Your pictures are fantastic and it looks as though everyone had fun.

My writing is not going anywhere at the moment- too much college homework.

mshatch said...

yes! I went to Boston to research my historical romance, Almost Paradise. Luckily my sister leaved neaby so we took the train in and spent the day sightseeing. It was fun AND interesting.

Jess said...

That's so cool! I'd love to go there someday! I like to make my places up, but am inspired by the places I've seen. I'm chugging along at my second draft and am finding so many things that I needed to fix! Thank goodness for second and third drafts!

MKHutchins said...

I've done both. Being there is best, but I've found that tools like Google Earth and Youtube can give me a pretty decent feeling for a place if I can't get there. I love your pictures!

Abby said...

How fun! I love Zion National Park. We went there this June. It is one of my favorite places.

I like to use places that I know to help me with ideas. Some things I make up and other things come from experience.

Rachna Chhabria said...

You all had fun. I like to use real settings as well as make believe ones. Sometimes, I visit a gallery or whichever place I am writing about.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Ooooh pretty. Congrats on finishing your second draft!

I set my current draft in Chicago, a city I love and have visited many times. Of course, my story's Chicago is from 110 years ago, but it's still Chicago :)

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Current draft, derp. Current PROJECT, I meant to say.

Mark Noce said...

Groovy vacation, I just visited Zion with my brother-in-law who is a ranger and we hiked up the Virgin river in the narrows.

Angie Cothran said...

I love this post. I'm going with my family to Zions next week. I'm going to pay close attention.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Oh, I wish I could visit Salem, MA for my current WIP. *sigh* I just have to settle for google maps for now. :P Someday...

Jenny S. Morris said...

Glad you had a good vacation. I've tried to visit some of the places I'm writing about. If I get to write Book 2 of my curret WIP, some of it's based in England. I would LOVE to do some research for that.

Also, congrats on the progress!

Ruth Josse said...

I'm a visual person so I love seeing things in person. But most of the time I have to rely on the Internet and the plethora of images available.

Lola X said...

Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

Lola x
http://lola-x.blogspot.com

Ellie Garratt said...

Loved the pictures, and your great attitude to researching settings. I need a town for my next setting, and I'm torn which to choose. Do I base it on somewhere I know - like my own town - but not make it obvious or do I choose a more well-known one that most readers could identify with? Decisions, decisions.

Ellie Garratt

Caitlin said...

Great pictures! That's awesome that you got to do some on-site research.

I'm about to do some of my own. My WIP is set in Memphis, where I lived for seven years. We're going back for a wedding, and I'm planning on getting about in midtown a bit more than I did before.

Adam Meyers said...

Even if you don't base your books off of a location, any and all things you learn as a writer improves your writing. That's what I love about being an author. Nothing is ever wasted.

Kari Marie said...

Wow - that place looks amazing! Great photos.

I haven't got to do any onsite research yet, but oooh I dream about it. I have one book set in Maine and another set on the Connecticut coast near the Thimble Islands.

Jaime Theler said...

I love Zions! I'd also love to do some onsite research, and I'm totally going to use the "But all my writer friends are doing it" excuse. Maybe my next book should be set in France...

 
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