GO TO THE PLACE YOUR BOOK IS SET!
…okay if you’re in the US and your book is set in Paris and you have no money, don’t go bankrupt for it…watch as many documentaries and street walk about on YouTube as you can.
This piece of writing advice has a personal anecdote.
This past Monday I drove down to the Mena, Arkansas area and planned to spend the morning hiking at Queen Whilamena State Park and the afternoon exploring the little, teeny-tiny towns surrounding the state park.
The drive down was really pleasant. But then it started raining. Thankfully, by the time I got to the Queen Whilamena Lodge and Restaurant the rain had stopped BUT there was fog EVERYWHERE!
I had not checked the weather app on my phone. I didn’t even think about the possibility of anything but clear skies and humid air (summer in Arkansas, y’all). But that is not what I got.
There was a fleeting moment where my heart sank and I thought, “I drove all this way and now I have to go home…”
But then I took another look at the fog, which was literally getting thicker by the minute and I thought, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS PERFECT WEATHER FOR A HORROR NOVEL!”
I mean look at that! That’s amazing!
If I’d gone on a “normal” day I’d have hiked, got some nice pictures of trees and buildings, and gone home with nice things to think about but this–the fog, the rain–gave my setting character. Or my setting looked at me and said, “Acknowledge that I am a force of nature!” while slapping me in the face.
And there was this really nifty fungus on the trail that was all glistening and fleshy. I almost walked face first into a MASSIVE spider webs trying to photograph it.
A new beginning to one of my books bloomed in my mind. I got to make rough stage blocking for an action scene and took pictures of this one specific outcropping from multiple angles for reference later. I was so inspired IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!
So the moral of this story here is think about what your setting is like in bad weather. You never know what will happen. But also, it’s important to visit, if you can, where your book is set because you’ll get to think about concrete details you may not have considered from your chair at your writing desk.
And I learned that my main character’s favorite food is not pizza like I thought it was, but fried green beans.
You never know what’s going to happen when you go out on location.
Good luck and happy writing!