Thank you guys SO much for all your comments on Friday. June has been a crazy-making month, and I really appreciated all your kind words, as well as your encouragement as I began writing a new WIP. It also sounds like several of you are actively engaged with your own WIPs, so I thought we could take today to discuss research, and specifically, researching a particular setting.
My new project is set in a place I've never been. In two of the three manuscripts I completed before I started this one, that was true as well, but that was because the settings of the manuscripts were, in large part, made up. One is set in the afterlife, and the other is set in futuristic, post-climate-disaster Boston. The other was set in present-day Michigan, and I made liberal use of Google maps, and especially the street views, to walk myself through and help me add accurate details to my setting.
This new project takes place in Ireland. Rural Ireland. Never been there. And I'm not Irish.
Google maps and earth can give me a satellite-level view, and there are plenty of tourist websites that give me a sense of some of the scenery. I've chosen a very particular spot for the story to take place, and I pull up the Google map and stare at it quite frequently. But ... there is no Google maps street-view for this area. So, almost by accident, I discovered a pretty cool way to get to know the area where my story is set. It's not possible to do this for every story, but man, I do recommend it.
Here I present a tour through the Irish countryside where my new story will take place (you really only need to watch for a minute, if that, to get a sense of it). Ignore the guy shouting in French. I'm sure he's just saying, "Drive safely, dear friend."
There. What do you think? Pretty cool, eh? Now tell me: how do you research a setting? Do you visit it (I wish I could afford to do that in this case)? Do you use Google maps? Do you search YouTube (I'd never done this before, but I've decided it's awesome)? Do you reach out and get to know someone who lives there? What methods do you use to infuse your manuscript with the detail it requires to build your world, to paint a picture for your reader?
Oh, and because it's Monday, remember to check out Lydia's Medical Monday post and Laura's Mental Health Monday post.