Friday, October 5, 2012
I guess because you don’t live in my head. Since I’m very grateful for that fact, I suppose I should figure out how to describe things to you. To tell you the truth, when I’m writing, a lot of scenes take place on a shadowed stage with headless people. So when it comes to the second draft, I need to see things a little more clearly before I can help you. Here are some ways that could happen:
Write about a familiar setting. Bliss, my first co-authored book, was mostly set in my hometown. Some of the shops are real, the tree-lined road to the beach is real, the local deli subs truly are amazing, and I lived the whole cleaning-jobs-on-the-Island life. (I never actually met Granny, however, which I should probably be very grateful for, as well.) Setting-wise, this was the most fun book I’ve written. I could see things more clearly, and I got to share my love for a real-life place.
Keep a notebook. For those organized, school-supply lovers among us. Find magazine pictures—home décor, travel, etc.—that fit your story. Make sections in your notebook and keep it handy to refer to.
I don’t get many magazines, I’m not very organized, and my traveling budget is limited. Thank goodness for the internet! Millions of options there. Here are a few places to get started:
Pinterest. Yes, I’m addicted. I admit it. I haven’t gotten into posting much about my stories in there yet, but I plan to. Think about all the options. Your characters’ homes, their furniture, their city, their vehicles…all on a digital scrapbook. B&H started doing this for the Bloomfield series (read more about that here, and find the boards here), and one of my Garden Club character’s yard is taking shape as I run across pictures that just feel right. Seeing the other authors’ in the series post pictures from around the square, etc., helps me to see the town more fully in my head. The online version of the notebook.
Youtube. Know where you want to place your story? Look it up on Youtube.com. You never know what you might find. Historical footage, festival fun, boring but helpful tours by moped…Who knows? It might spark a twist that surprises even you.
Home planning sites. There are many sites (like this one) that give you tons of blueprint options. My co-author and I are working on a trilogy revolving around a plantation. Which means we kinda need to figure out where everything’s at inside that big old house. Before we resort to drawing an undecipherable map, we can look for blueprints to base it on.
Tripadvisor. For real-life settings, look up the city on tripadvisor.com. There you’ll see which restaurants are the favorite hang-outs, which hotels not to stay at, get ideas what to do and where to go, see snapshots (as opposed to promo pictures) of food and places, and read reviews which just might give you a feeling for local life.
Google Earth and Google Maps. Check out the former to get the lay of the land, see the buildings and terrain, etc. Use the latter to get more of a street view.
Facebook. You've got friends all over. Use 'em! Ask, and I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you all about their neck of the woods. It's gotta be more fun than playing Farmville.
Your turn! How do you make the setting come alive for yourself and for your readers?