|From a real estate magazine, the house my MC lives in|
Setting plays such an important part of every story. Books that transport you into their world, real or imaginary, make the story come alive in your mind. When I can see the place as I read, hear the water echoing off the concrete as it drips, feel the cold seep beneath my jacket, smell the musty decay — then you’ve hooked me. I want to read more.
But how do you make your words create a visual image for your reader?
I’m a very visual person. So for me, photos are a must. Even when I’m making something up, I like to have a visual resource to reference. I’ll scour the internet for images that evoke a sense of place. I’ve drawn neighborhood maps, house layouts and figured out routes on Map Quest.
But sometimes there’s no substitute for actually visiting a place. A pivotal scene in one of my novels takes place at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. While the lab isn’t exactly shrouded in mystery (they hold an open house every year), there aren’t a lot of photos on the web. And try looking it up on Google Earth. You can’t get past the gate. I did so many carefully worded searches on Google that I started to worry that government representatives might show up at my door to ask what the hell I was doing!
My solution? Go to the annual open house. And since I didn’t have time to see everything I wanted to see, I scheduled a group tour a month later. Yes, it was time consuming. But oh, how valuable. Those scenes would not be as visually real without that hands-on experience.
This weekend I’m taking a road trip, tracing the path my characters go on in part of the story. As a bonus, I’m tying it in with the book release party for my agent-mate, Caroline Starr Rose. Woo-hoo!
How far are you willing to go to make a scene real?
Three wonderful bloggers who I count as friends had books released into the world yesterday. Caroline Starr Rose‘s debut MG verse novel, MAY B
Robin Mellom‘s debut YA romantic comedy, DITCHED
Beth Revis‘ second YA sci-fi novel, A MILLION SUNS
Congrats to all of them!!
And just so you know, all three of them are holding contests to celebrate their book releases, so you might want to pay them a visit to see what they’re giving away. And don’t forget to tell them happy book birthday!!