Friday, October 16, 2009

The beauty of research

I invested in a library card last weekend. Yeah, I know. It's been a while. For the past couple of years I've been borrowing a friend's, or - gasp - relying on the Internet.

But over the past few weeks, I've been attending author chats at school libraries and remembering how much I love learning. Add to that a bit of writer's block and presto - I've got a new library card.

I went home with a stack of great books. Mostly to help my characters delve into new adventures - I honestly don't know how anything about the Bermuda Triangle - or to better describe the landscapes I'm not yet able to explore on my own.

Last night at my writers' group meeting (Uh ladies, I think it's time we come up with a name for ourselves) , one of my beloved critique partners complimented my location authenticity. I'm still smiling over that.

It was actually James Rollins who taught me you don't need to fly to India (darn it) to adequately describe the Taj Mahal. He recommends picking a couple of key books - deemed your "text book" for the current WIP - and scrolling through images on Google or another photo resource tool for the finer details.

I tested that theory with ABSOLUTION. Most of what I'd read about Milan's monstrous gothic Duomo came from the Internet. I scrolled the cathedral's website, then checked out video footage on YouTube, and finally found a book that wasn't in Italian to reference. A year after I finished the first draft of the novel, I had the opportunity to visit Milan. I took more than 500 pictures of the Duomo, and even sat in the confessional where most of the book's "action" takes place. To my surprise, I barely changed any of the description in the book in subsequent drafts.

As I flush out the details of HEARTLESS, I'm learning much about the Taj Mahal. But I'd forgotten how much more in depth books can be for research - Wikipedia only gets you so far. At the library, I discovered historical information about not only the mausoleum, but also the people, the culture, and the beliefs of the people who built it. Those are the kind of details I'm looking for.

And if I'm lucky, I'll have an opportunity to travel to India and see how authentic my description is this time around. 

Until then, I'm more than pleased with the awesome resources I scored this weekend.

P.S. - Oh yeah...I also picked up the latest Greg Isles book there. I <3 Greg Isles!  (Yes, Jan, I WILL remember to bring you one of his other books next week.)

No comments:

Post a Comment