Most writers do their research before they write their manuscript, or maybe they do some research while they are writing. Unintentionally, I’m doing mine after the fact, backwards.
Thanks to a Regional Artists Project Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County , during 2015 I will be able to replicate the road trip that is the plot of my WIP, currently titled “Finding Vivvie’s Shoes”, a story of five sisters re-settling their relationships during what may be the last family road trip they will ever take.
Writers like Marni Graff (The Nora Tierney mysteries) who write in specific settings – her books are placed in Oxford – know the importance of getting setting right. In fact, Marni often talks on this very subject. She studied in Oxford and makes return trips there to refresh her memory and absorb more of the atmosphere in order to recreate it in her readers’ minds. While the Internet is great for research – did you know you can take a virtual helicopter ride over parts of the country? – nothing compares to reality. With that thought in mind, I knew that if it were at all possible, I wanted to take the very road trip my characters were going to take. Come this fall, that is exactly what I am going to do.
During the first part of the year, I will be revising my existing manuscript in an effort to have it ready for any refinements or new material that arises out of my trip. I will be consulting with places and people on site during the trip — eg, seeing if my ladies are able to drink too much at the Biltmore Vineyard, or how authors are handled at Southern Festival of Books, as well as drinking in scenery, culture, and local residents’ eccentricities. Some of the revisions depend on other in-depth research that I can do in advance — eg, researching military exercises or Amish customs.
As I develop the various layers of the novel, as I revise and solidify my characters and the relationships amongst them and their families, I will blog about what I discover and how the manuscript – and I – change.
So, welcome to Finding Robin’s Story – a blog about my work in a profession that is intertwined with who I am.