I have talked about doing your research and different ways to start your writing; but there is another aspect we can look at to help keep that inspiration going. I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine that is writing to their book. They wanted to research into some old technology to be able to recall how it worked and can incorporate that into their story. With that research they were able to make the experience feel more real and could write about it in more detail and authority. It got me thinking that if we are writing a story based in some other period, just reading about it may not give us the information we really need.
It could be as simple as finding a rotary phone and having that tangible feeling and then translating that into words for the story. So, I am calling this immersive research. Reading is a great way to continue us learning and bringing that into our own writing. Sometimes those words can seem flat and not enough to get us in the right mood to something to life for us. There is a village right down the road from where I used to live. It is set up like it would have been back when it was built. It dates to around 1766. That right there is some immersive research. Going back in time to see how they lived and what it would have looked like while walking through the village like it was the 18th century.
Museums are another great way to dive into a specific period. Looking at full body armor from the days of old, tapestries and the furniture that was used. It is all there and ready for us to rediscover and make them into something new and exciting with our creativity. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an art museum if you find that too stuffy. There are galleries of clothing that are preserved from different centuries. Specifically, those from the golden age of Hollywood. You want to find that glitz and glam for your mobster story, look for the mobster museum.
With recently doing a project in my drama class, I find interviews to be an interesting viewpoint on a specific area in time. My mom growing up within the 50’s and 60’s, she was able to describe the way the stores were, how they played outside, what they did in their spare time, and the rest is history, as they say. Getting firsthand accounts gives it a more human feel when putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Pictures can say a lot, but from the mouths of those who lived it, is so much more vivid.
The internet and programs are all well and good to get a basic understanding of the research we are doing. While we are wordsmiths and use them to invoke emotion and imagination, sometimes going to a place and diving into the life that we are writing about, can give us more ammunition behind those words. Step out from behind the desk. Go outside and experience the stories you are trying to write. Even if it is about dragons and faeries. There are fairs you can go to that will easily bring you into the land of fantasy. Become more a part of the story, if not a character within it. It will give it so much more depth and dynamics for you and your audience.