By Laura Curtis
You've heard the hoary old saying a million times: write what you know. I've never really believed that. Instead, I feel strongly that you should write what you can--and want to--research. If you write crime fiction, for example, you should take a class at a firing range so you can see how shooting feels. That way you don't have to rely on other people's descriptions.
Some of this you can simulate. For example, if you are going to write a car chase, you don't want to drive 100mph yourself--it's hard to write the great American novel if you're dead. But you can ride a roller coaster and see what kind of sensations the speed gives you, how it feels to be on the very edge of loss of control.
My latest research adventure started at RWA, where I got tired of answering the question: "what do you write." On a rather long night, I answered "I write whatever I get paid to write. I'd write a heroine who sells sex toys if I thought it would sell." Much giggling ensued at the table, and when I got home, I thought "why not?"
And so, my latest WIP was born.
Passion Parties and set up a party. I invited a ton of people. The wonderful Carol Marie came and did show-and-tell for us. We had wine and cheese and fruit and, most of all, laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
I learned a great deal about sex toys and quite a bit about some of my friends, too! I tried out creams and lotions I never would have known about, let alone been able to describe. And since my friends knew the party was for research, I carefully wrote down the funniest of their comments for future use. (I also bought some products as giveaways for when the book gets published. Think positive!)
Last night, I wrote the "sex toy party" scene for the WIP. It took next to no time because the information was all there, right at my fingertips, as it were.
If you're trying to add realistic detail to your current project, why not give in-person research a shot? If you're writing about a garden, go up to the Botanical Gardens and smell everything, for example.
And if at all possible, do your research with wine and friends.♥
Laura K. Curtis lives in
with her husband and three crazed Irish Terriers, which is probably why she spends her time dreaming of love and murder. She has an online shop where she sells her glasswork, and her beads have been featured on the cover of Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. She has written for Art Jewelry magazine and academic journals, and will have a short story in the anthology MURDER, NEW YORK STYLE II, coming in 2011 from L&L Dreamspell. She can be found on Twitter at @laurakcurtis and she blogs at http://www.womenofmystery.net. Mount Kisco