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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!