How I Research for My Novels
Ever fallen down the Google rabbit hole? I have!
I'm a sucker for a good researching session. Ask me any question, and I'll probably spend hours looking up the answer - PLUS the answers to a dozen other questions I have while I'm researching the first answer.
This probably won't surprise you, but research is a HUGE part of the novel-writing process.
I firmly believe one thing:
Behind every good writer is a great researcher.
Whether you write contemporary romance, historical drama, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, whatever... There's a TON of research that goes into every book.
Need to know how long it takes a person to bleed out from a gunshot wound? Better research it!
Ever wondered what the pointy thing on the front of a ship is called? Google is your friend! (Hint: it's called a bowsprit!)
The title of this blog post is a little misleading, because my research process changes for every book that I write. For some books, I do lots of research before I ever write a word. For other projects, I Google little things as I go and save the bulk of my research for the revision process.
When I started plotting the ESI series, I knew I wanted the story to be set in a small town somewhere. I love the Pacific Northwest, so I focused my research there. I spent a lot of time looking through Google Earth and online photos of many small towns in the Oregon and Washington area.
When I saw photos of La Conner, I KNEW it was the one. Just look at this:
I mean... Wow!
But of course, I couldn't fully understand La Conner's layout without visiting there myself, right? So I convinced my husband to take me on vacation to Washington for our 1-year anniversary.
The following photos are unedited and taken by my husband, who (bless his heart) does not have a photography background.
By the time we actually visited La Conner, I had already written most of DUAL INNOCENCE. Based on the images I saw online, I had a certain image of the town in my head.
The drive from Seattle to La Conner was beautiful! If you've never been to the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend it.
I was SO EXCITED to see La Conner in person. I half-expected to see Sarah and Bellamy strolling down the street together!
It was a quiet little town on the water, just like I expected.
But there were also a lot of things that didn't match the image I'd created in my mind.
For one thing, in the books, the Ericksons' house is right on the river.
In the real La Conner, there aren't any houses on the water. Most of them are further away, and it's just the downtown area that sits on the waterfront. (I took some creative liberties there and kept that part in the book though!)
We parked near the water and walked up and down Main Street, taking a million pictures. Then we walked inside some of the shops, bought some souvenirs, and ate lunch at a local restaurant on the water.
After we explored the downtown area, we hopped back in the car and I told my husband to start driving. We didn't have any destination in mind, so we just drove through random neighborhoods, turning wherever looked interesting. I took a million pictures of the different houses, people on the street (sorry, random strangers!), and anything else I could see.
By the time the day was over, I knew La Conner inside and out. (Okay, maybe not THAT well, but it was pretty good for one day!)
For the ESI series, I really wanted La Conner to be its own character. I wanted the readers to fall in love with the little town as much as I did, so it was important for me to go the extra mile with my research on it.
I did a lot of other research too, but most of that was standard Google stuff. (Google and I are great pals!)
For my next project, I'm writing a fantasy series. That one starts off in Seattle, so guess who's got another trip planned soon?
Hey, I'll use research as an excuse to plan a vacation anytime!