Thursday, August 4, 2011

Research or Are We Having Fun Yet?

Good morning!

I hope this post finds you well. I just got in from my morning stroll and it's already hot and humid...and it's only 9am! Ah...balmy summers in the South. Is it October yet?

Been doing a bit of research. Ok, so a lot more than just a bit. That's why I've been AWOL the past two days. Got an idea that requires some world building. World building of the real world kind. Which is not as much fun as, say, Narnia or Middle Earth, but enjoyable. Thing is, on the surface, you'd think real world building would be easier. I use the term "real world building" to mean a place invented and yet fully set here and now, in the real world. No alternate dimensions, no corresponding realities. I'll admit, this is a jump for me, but one I'm enjoying with abandon.

The thing is, real world building is harder than fantasy world building. Why? Because if you base a story around a real destination, or a destination that could exist, it has to be perfect. Meaning: if I base a tale in Savannah, GA and I say that Tybee Island is 5 miles off I-95, every reader from the state of Georgia would be writing to tell me I'm a blooming idiot. (Incidentally, you'll find Tybee Island down US-80 East, which is locally known as Butler Avenue as soon as you hit that charming little curve in the road and you get your first real glimpse of the mighty Atlantic.)

The world I'm building is based on the coastal towns of Georgia. It's invented, so I have a bit more freedom, however, it has to be believable. In other words, I can't make it snow in September, capisce?

Anywho, are any of you guys doing any world building, real or otherwise? Which would you or do you prefer? Do you find it harder to write about real places or places based around actual locales? Or do those stories come to you easily, wrapping around you like humidity in August in Atlanta?

Just curious.


  1. I like a realistic setting for my writing. I'm a realist that way. But, I didn't know how picky it could be, so that has blocked me. I put in a snowstorm in January in 1942, which is perfectly logical for MN, but was questioned as to was there really a snowstorm in Jan. in 1942. Now, I thought that if it's historical FICTION, that I could invent a snowstorm, but apparently not, so I'm not working on that story anymore.

    I'm with you on the whole fall is better thing. New energy happens in the fall. I think it's like a new year, you know, like a new school year, the heat of summer is over. The air is crisp and cool.

  2. Well, not to put a damper on your day, but the Philadelphia area received a full day and night of rain yesterday. It's cooled off for right now, but I'm not holding my breath.

    I am getting ready to head to Bucks County Community College to get some preliminary research done on parts of my world building. I will eventually need to get down to Philly, specifically Fishtown before November (NaNoWriMo). My mystery novel series is set in Fishtown, a part of North Philly. I'm wicked excited, but not entirely sure what all I need to get under my belt before I start writing. Good luck to you!

  3. I do find it's harder to write about actual places. I once set a book in South Carolina and did hours of Googling . . . same with a story I started about Ancient China. I always get the urge to find every detail that I can, since I certainly don't want to come off as not having done research.

    (Also: I'm reading the Cliff Notes version of you on your sidebar and I totally agree--being an airship pirate would be awesome. LOL.)

  4. I strongly dislike setting a story in a real place for the reasons you named, but with historical fiction, it can't always be helped. It can be fun to do the research though, especially when you run across that one piece of information that makes it all work!

  5. Hi Stacy!

    I've avoided setting a story in a real place for so long because of the need for such accuracy. However, I think I've submerged myself in fantasy for so long, I'm needing the grounding of a real place (or at least a fictious town based on a real region). Best of luck in your historical novel!!



Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.