I'm on vacation this week...
Our family had plans to go to Montana for a week of boating and fishing, but with all the rain Colorado has experienced these last few weeks, the promise of hot, dry air made my painting contractor husband itch to catch up on jobs and my farmer daughter needs to cut hay.
Oh, dear Diary, what's a girl to do with a week's vacation, no family in the house, and a gob of housework waiting for attention??
WRITE, OF COURSE!!!!!
I'm in the final throws of this manuscript and can't seem to get beyond flat writing. Oh, I still love the story, but something is missing. The missing link is lack of definitive placement of the five senses. You can smell baking bread anywhere, just like you can taste chocolate (yumbola!), feel satin, listen to music, and see a gorgeous hero : ) Make these sense come alive to your specific setting. That's what I'm talking about!
With Colorado being my choice of setting, how could I make my story distinctive and exclusive to the mountain setting? Why should I even be asking this question? I've lived here almost all my life! Why does my fictious mountain town and ranch sound like Anyplace, USA?
Time for research. I took a field trip.
About 15 minutes from my house is a lovely canyon leading into Rocky Mountain National Park. Camera in hand, I drove to one of the many trailheads, parked and took a hike.
In one scene, my characters are fishing in a stream. The sound of the rushing water of the river in high runoff filled the air. White water dominated places while quiet pockets of still water gave kids picnicking with their folks a chance to dip their feet into the icy water. The sight of rocks jutting out into the fast current; fallen logs lodged and embedded in the river bottom; green, lush willows, aspens, cottonwoods co-existing with pines. The smell of cold, fresh, clean water coupled with the feel of the spray of water misting my face made me want to pull up a rock and stay awhile.
How about character? Why would I want to place a fence of chainlink or whitewash slats when rough hewn pine will fill the bill nicely? Simple, sturdy, specific. I wish I had one of these models encasing my yard : )
Don't forget the background color! Delicate flora and fauna can enhance smell, not only for the fragrance, but don't forget allergy sufferers (our characters are real, aren't they?). The touch of velvety petals, prickly cactus, sticky milkweed. Have you ever tasted dandelion leaves or sap on a bark?
Whether writing about the city or country, remember to include the supporting cast! Name them! Invite them on stage!
And this wonderful image is not catalogued in my Sunday afternoon photo library, but the image is emblazoned on my heart...
...gotta love those cowboys!!
A sight I never get tired of : )
I've written Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Contemporaries. But my heart belongs to cowboys. Glad all this wonderful research is all around me rather than just at my fingertips.
What's your chosen genre? How do you research your setting?
We can always use tips!!