Thursday, December 20, 2007

Researching on the go! by DL Larson

As I looked out my window this morning and took in the frost laden evergreens in the fog, I thought, 'what a perfect setting for a story ...' Mental notes began to form in my mind, the crispness of the air, yet damp and heavy, drifting in the wind; the dog tracks wavering a path in the dusting of snow around the crop of trees created a setting for me. I've tucked it away to use in the future.

We writers spend considerable time away from our computers, but like the image mentioned above, we are always working, gathering tidbits of life to use in our stories. We need to be ever perceptive of our senses in order to breathe essence into our plots.

Like the other day; every store I entered "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" played through the speakers. I'm dreaming of a white - and I checked out, humming the rest of the song. Twenty minutes later, I'm dreaming of a white ... resounded throughout another store and I frowned, wishing to hear something else. At the next store I heard, dreaming of a White Christmas -. and I smiled filing away the annoyance of how a character could become irritated at such an innocent, random phenomenon. Simple idea? Insignificant? Maybe, maybe not, but the memory will be a good parallel to remember. It's not always the grandeur that captures our readers attention, but the small, mundane occurances they can relate to that often brings a character to life on the pages.

When I can't sit at my computer and write, I don't fret too much. Life gets in the way, especially this time of year. And I accept that. So, I research while I'm shopping; that person over there certainly has an interesting, but pale face; and would one call that skarf fashion sheek or retro from the 50's archives? Hmmm, and the shoes inside galoshes. Haven't seen that in awhile. Another fashion statement, or character quirk? Only I will decide. But I have an image I can work with. Male? Female? Young or old? Poor? Or eccentric? And the hem dangling down in the back? A recent accident or has that been drooping for awhile? Does the character know? Or care? Such interesting decisions to decide. And each one will tell a bit more about the character I'm creating as I stand here in the long line to check out. Good research.

Sometimes I write impressions down, other times they are so clearly implanted in my thoughts I don't need to. But I'm guessing, many writers have files of character or setting ideas. Some may never look at what they've stored away, others may depend on their research each time they create a new story. The point is, the more I practice this exercise, the easier it becomes to remember the tiniest detail. It also pushes the guilt away if I don't get time at the computer. I'm still a writer, still creating and plotting.

Have a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy each moment with your family and friends. A plothera of great characters emerge in every gathering. Happy pickings!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

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