It’s not only the big stuff that requires research when writing a novel. The big stuff in my current Work-in-Progress includes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and whale behavior. But I thought I’d illustrate how much research truly goes into a book. As I’ve mentioned before, as I write, I keep a running list of things I need to check on before finishing the book. That list is now many, many pages long. Groan.
Here’s a paragraph from chapter two, written from 17-year-old Maggie’s point of view:
I called Mom to let her know the lock-in had been moved from the community center to Drury Memorial so she’d know where to pick Andy up in the morning. Then I told her I was going over Amber Donnelly’s. Instead, I drove to the northern end of the Island, which, on a mid-week night in early April, felt more like the end of the universe. I saw only two other cars on the road in seven miles, both heading south, and few of the houses had lights on inside. The moon was so full and bright that eerie shadows of shrubs and mailboxes lay across the road in front of me. I thought I was seeing dogs or deer in the road and I kept braking for nothing. I was relieved when I spotted the row of cottages on the beach.
Now here’s what I added to my research list from that one simple paragraph:
- Is there a community center? If not, where could the lock-in have been held? If so, where is it in relation to my setting of the fictional church?
- Is seven miles the correct distance?
- Can there be a full moon in early April 2007?
- Are there deer on Topsail Island?
I’m not complaining–well, I guess I did groan above, didn’t I? But the research is fun, although it takes time (and another trip to Topsail Island–yippee!) to make sure I have things right. Even so, I know I’ll make a mistake or two that astute readers will be sure to point out to me!
Back to work.