Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday's Wanderings ---- Locations

A lot of writers dread researching details for the settings of their novels. There is so much reading to do; so much time spent searching the Internet for information. Some of it can dampen inspiration. But there is a way to make research one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing life and kindle that flame of inspiration, and here’s how.

You can find inspiration in your own backyard whether your setting is local or distant. To keep this post brief, I will outline for you steps you can take to find inspiration in your research that is local.

  1. Begin online by searching your county’s historical sites. A good source is your local historical society website. Make a list of sites according to places that are from the time period your novel is written in. For example, your heroine lives in a Revolutionary War period manor house. You can visit one nearby to feel the ambiance of such a place, soak in the architecture and lifestyle.
  2. Pack a lunch, your camera, and a notebook! Gas up the car and set out through country roads to these locations. But watch for interesting little known places along the way.
  3. Explore plantations, fortresses, battlefields, old houses, and small towns. I’m fortunate to live in a historically rich area in Maryland. I’m currently writing a series entitled ‘Daughters of the Potomac’. Not far from me are the Potomac River, Harpers Ferry, Rose Hill Manor, and Schifferstadt House, all places where my books will be set or places that are representative of places in the stories. In visiting them, taking photos and notes, my heart swells with inspiration, and history comes alive in my mind, much more so than reading a document online.
  4. Now, while you drive throughout the countryside, keep an eye out for interesting places you may not find listed, such as old houses, memorials, old cemeteries, and churches. They will be out there, and they are worth a pause.

So here are a few links to the places I have visited that have inspired my writing.

I hope you enjoy your time researching your story!
Rita Gerlach


Jessica Nelson said...

That sounds so fun! I would love to do that. I think my kids would like it too. Thanks for the idea, Rita!

Rita Gerlach said...

Yea, make a day trip out of it. Last weekend, while working on edits, it came up I needed to have my characters' home along a stream or creek leading into the Potomac. My husband is a fisherman and knew right where to take me. Israel Creek. It was so fun to explore it and trek right down to where it pours into the river.

If you do go on a day trip like this with your kids, be sure to take a camera.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Vacations I took in the past, as well as day trips, still trigger my creativity. Even if I can't use the exact memory, I can use the information as a jumping off point for additional research.