It’s hard enough to write about a place you know well. What do you do when your story takes place somewhere you’ve never been?
Let’s say you have a great idea for a novel set in Granada, Spain, but you’ve never been outside the USA. How do you make the setting realistic? More to the point, how do you keep from making the sort of gaffe that will make readers who have been there throw your book across the room?
The mantra for writers these days is “Make it realistic.” After all, it won’t be long before we’re competing with three-dimensional, five-sense virtual reality. But we will never try to do that. It is impossible to give the reader everything, and you don’t want to. The trick to giving the reader a wonderful experience is to make the right choices in what we show.
Naturalism: the Ultimate Reality
There was a movement in the theatre world in the nineteenth century. The performers were trying new ways to make their performances as realistic as possible. One offshoot of this movement was the “naturalism” school. These people had the brilliant idea that the best way to show realistic theatre was to show reality. Actors woke up in the morning pretending to be their character. They went through their whole day as their character. By the time they reached the theatre, they were totally immersed in their role. This is now called “method acting,” and many performers use adapted versions today.
However, other theatrical geniuses tried to take the “reality” much farther. Someone actually had the idea of taking the side off an apartment building and placing seating there instead, so the audience could watch the tenants go about their daily lives. Can you imagine? Continue reading “Tips for Realism in Writing”
I suppose you could say that I’ve been doing research all my life – as any writer should. After all, the essential, endless curiosity that drives us to ask ‘what if’ and then ‘what happens next’ has to start somewhere. It starts in those questions, but it’s based in what we’ve learned and know.
Part of every child’s education is spent exploring ancient gods and goddesses, particularly the Greek and Roman. They fascinated me just as they fascinate most children, especially their excesses – Percy Jackson’s popularity is no coincidence. Continue reading “The Importance of Research”