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What In the Name of Research


Writing is fun on so many levels.  The way a story evolves or takes an unexpected turn is what keeps me coming back again and again.  Just like reading a good book, we get to use our imagination and visit places we may never have the opportunity to in real life.

And how about the research?  What an awesome way to experience things we may never get the chance to otherwise.  I’ve talked about our RWA Chapter’s trip to the shooting range where we had the opportunity to learn about and shoot several types of guns, hear the sounds, smell the gunpowder and feel the power behind each shot.  Talk about an adrenaline rush!

There are so many great opportunities out there.  No matter what genre you write, you can find creative ways to immerse your readers deeper into your story and make them remember it and your characters long after they turn that last page.  I know this is what makes me buy that next book by an author.

How about a field trip with a ghost hunter or visit to FBI headquarters? Or a vacation to a place where you’ve set your book?  Of course you can always search the internet to find out the information you need to make your story feel more real.  But what fun is that?  I’ve been known to walk around with a blindfold on just to see what it might feel like to be blind.  Walked on broken glass to see what it feels and sounds like as it breaks beneath my feet. (with shoes on of course. LOL)  And stranger yet, sat in a hot car with the air conditioner off and the windows rolled up.  Talk about a miserable experience.

What about you? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research? 😉


11 Responses

  1. It’s all material, Melissa… we just have to figure out how to use it…:)

    It does make a difference, the kind of research you’re talking about. With very few exceptions, a reader can always tell when the author is ‘making it up’ or has really been there.

    • You’re right, Will. I’m just glad that I don’t have real life experiences to draw on for my current books. The internet and news stories are as close as I want to get. And sometimes, they are too much! I must write something happy next! LOL

  2. I didn’t let my husband shave one morning so I could rub my cheek on his. I was writing that scene in a book and I wanted to make sure the description was accurate.

    My local chapter went on a ghost hunt in a haunted hotel. Didn’t see anything. Doing it again this fall.

    • I missed our group trip here to the haunted street in Old Town Spring. They came back with pictures of orbs. Stuff like this creeps me out, though. I’m not sure whether to hope you see something this time or not! LOL

  3. Since some of my books are historical, that research has been only in books and on the internet, but some of it fascinating–bank closings, the Royal Navy, etc.

    And I’ll be honest, I think everything is research! That’s probably why I have a children in most of my books…I’ve been a mom for 20 years…LOL.

    • Tess, I think Historical’s have to be the hardest to research! But what a great way to learn about history in the process. 🙂

      20 years of being a mom….you deserve a medal, girl! 🙂

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything strange for research. I’m going to have to, now that I’ve read some of the things you do!

    My favorite, FAVORITE research tool right now is Google Maps Street View. I “visited” a restaurant I haven’t been to in a couple of decades, and ran up and down a Boston street to add detail to my WIP.

    I’m a full-on armchair (desk chair) explorer! LOL

  5. Natalie, you really must try it! I felt silly at first, but the more you do it, the more you look for fun and interesting things to try. LOL

    I’ve tried the google maps street view. Really weird how close you can zoom in isn’t it! No more suntanning in the backyard for this chic!! 🙂

  6. I’m definitely a hands on girl as much as possible, Melissa. I do as many tours and things as I can. I don’t think I’ve done anything too weird, but I did have my son help me figure out if I could use the mini-blinds cord to cut through zip ties (not the actual melting, but the hand position, etc…). Also played around with getting free from being tied to the leg of a couch. Can you tell I write RS? 😉

    I heard Linda Howard say she once ran out and crawled under her SUV to make sure a woman would fit. (Later found that scene in SON OF THE MORNING.) Her neighbor sure looked at her funny.

    • Gwen, you and I would get along real well! LOL Love suspense too. At this point my hubby just walks by and shakes his head. There was a time he was thinking a straight jacket might be on the horizon. 🙂

      I would have loved to hear Linda Howard speak! I’m so jealous!!

  7. I went home with perfect strangers and then out to eat with their whole family this past February. We’ve since become FB friends and she’s read my books. Sometimes the research leads to adventure, pushing you to do things you normally wouldn’t. I love that.

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