Researching the Story
They say, when you’re writing a book, write what you know. The only problem with that is what I know isn’t always very exciting. If I were to write a book completely on what I know, you probably wouldn’t be very interested in reading more than a few chapters. I’m guessing it would be somewhat disjointed as I jumped from one area of expertise to the next. Possible, you would be a better expert in many of the areas and the flaws would shout out to you.
The first 80,000 word story I wrote was pretty much from my mind. It took place in Seacrest, Florida, a place we love to vacation. Even though I didn’t research it, experience had taught me something of the area.
The second story takes place at a pumpkin patch. For that one I visited a local one that has thousands of visitors each fall. I asked questions, found out how they plant and grow the pumpkins, and took lots of pictures. When I drive by the real pumpkin patch, I have a strong sense of ownership because that farm became my pumpkin patch. My hero worked in Washington D.C., so an aunt who had lived there helped me with the Metro Transportation System, what his job was, how he’d act, and a basic layout of the area.
Now I’m working on a historical and the research time has increased. I’ve spent hours in the town where part of the story takes place. Driving the streets looking for the perfect home, reading old newspapers on microfiche, and visiting the museums. The treasures I’ve found in the newspapers are stories no one would think of on their own!
But the best part of research happened a few weeks ago. My heroine is an aviatrix (female pilot) from the 1920’s. I found a local business man who flew and started asking questions. He offered to take me up in his biplane from the ’30’s. There was no way I was going to refuse that! Words cannot describe what it was like to fly in an old plane like this. It took me less that two minutes to know exactly why my heroine chose to fly.
It was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so excited that my heroine chose to be a pilot and can expertly fly this type of plane. I may never get to fly my own, but I’ll live through her as I finish writing this story. Hopefully someday, you’ll get to live through her too!
Research really does make a story more exciting and real. Fortunately, when it involves something like flying in a biplane, it’s pretty painless!