Imagination, Writing

The Places You Go

As you would expect, a lot of research is required of non-fiction writers—good ones, at least. But did you know that even fiction writers have to research? How much is necessary depends on the story and your personal experience with the events and locations addressed. For someone like me, who’s not widely traveled, location research is always needed. In one of the books I’m working on now, the locations are London, and a few other towns in England, as well as Dublin. I’ve been to neither of those countries.

When I first began writing novels, the public library was my go-to for learning things I didn’t know. Now, the internet is invaluable … and in some ways wondrous. With Google Maps, I can even “walk” down the streets in a town thousands of miles away. If you’ve read my romantic comedy series, you might like to know this is how I pictured the street where Jeremy lives in Notting Hill.

And in the second book of that series, you were introduced to his family’s estate in the English countryside. The photo at the top of this post is similar to how I picture their home viewed from one of the gardens. [Photo credit: Clive Nichols] The “actual” houses in my imagination I found on real estate sites and then viewed them and their surroundings by entering the addresses in Google Maps (I’m not using those actual photos because I couldn’t save them.)

I once told a writing group that I detail my fictional homes to the point that I can tell you what’s in their refrigerators. I’ve even drawn floor plans unless my characters are living in a house I’ve lived in or visited, though I’m free to change bits of those to suit my story.

Via the internet, I’ve also browsed restaurant menus, scoped out hotels, and checked average weather conditions in certain months for particular locations. When I was writing my lone horror novel, I was familiar with the contemporary locations in Indiana, but some historical research was necessary for parts of the story. For other books I’ve needed to consult with a nurse, a bartender, an auto service manager, a baseball expert, an accounting professor, a Farsi speaker, and other knowledgeable people.

But it’s the “traveling” I love the most. By the time I’ve finished writing, I feel like I’ve actually been to those places. If you read my newsletter, you know that I’m working on two novels this year. In that second one, I’ll be spending some of the time on a Kentucky farm, and this pretty “crick” will feature in a few scenes. Won’t that be nice?

Thank you for reading!


5 thoughts on “The Places You Go”

  1. The research can be a lot of fun. Now you can visit places with HeyGo and go on a virtual tour with a real live tour guide. I’ve used it a number of times. Even if I’ve been to the location, some details I might forget.

    Liked by 1 person

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