Tuesday, October 02, 2007

COVER TO COVER: Research

You’ve plotted your book.
Developed the characters.
Devised a rock-solid conflict.
Identified key scenes.
Now what?

Research!

This is the fun part where you can get to be as creative as you like, from a one-on-one personal interview with an expert in their field (wish I’d done this for my Navy SEAL!) to using the Internet.
Google will bring answers to your fingertips in a jiffy and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your desk.
Though if you’re like me and need to get a feel for a place if using it in a story, you schedule a visit.

The bulk of my books have been set in Melbourne (and yes, I’ve already raved about how it’s such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city in an earlier post) so doing first-hand research is enjoyable, accessible and fun.

With COURTING CUPID, I set the book in New Quay, Docklands, the newest hip precinct in Melbourne-and somewhere I hadn’t been yet! The Internet provided a veritable feast of information and pictures, so I had a pretty good idea of my book’s setting before I started.

However, I wanted to walk in my heroine’s shoes.

I wanted to feel what it’s like for her on a blustery Melbourne spring day as she looks out of her apartment, what would she see, what would be on her left and right as she strolled down the boardwalk.

So I made the trip into the city on Sunday. (Nice that it doubled as a family day out too!) Had breakfast in a swank hotel, followed up by a short drive to New Quay where we strolled, had a leisurely latte and soaked up the atmosphere.

(Should've taken a few more water shots!! I'm sure you'd rather see that than moi!! Was too busy snapping hubby and kids in front of the great water views.)

I have my book pretty much plotted on paper, rough as it may be, but it’s amazing how a simple stroll can spark off a fresh scene, a different point of view and best of all, give depth to the setting.
It’s all about perception, and recreating the feel of a place for the reader with words and doing first-hand research can enhance your layering, bringing your story alive.

When setting your story, it’s worth considering what’s closest to home. We often crave exotic locations or write about some place we’d like to visit when in fact, taking a look in our own backyard (figuratively!) can open up a host of research possibilities you never imagined.

(Note: I tend to do a lot of first hand research in Melbourne, especially restaurants and cafés!!)


And remember, if none of the above works for you, inventing your own stuff is part of the fun of being a writer :)

3 comments:

Marcy said...

Great blog, Nicola.

Did you decide what you're naming the cafe yet? Inquiring minds want to know...

Nicola Marsh said...

Hey Marcy,

I've named it Cafe Niche (actually, my mum suggested it!) I've used it throughout the book so far, tying it in with Camryn's conflict, so will see if I stick with it...

Marcy said...

Great name, Nicola!