Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Utah

Sometimes I wonder if my writing is restricted by my experiences. I know I know. I still have an imagination and what about all those amazing stories that people like JK Rowling or C.S. Lewis came up with? For one, they lived in the magical land of England, which practically oozes mystical worlds from the grasses. And anyway, I don't write fantasy (at least not right now).

I want to get out of Utah for a while. See something other than these awesome mountains speckled with pine trees and quakies and red rocks (WHAT AM I THINKING? who wants to leave THAT?! -->) Something other than the "oh my heck" and "oh my gosh" phrases. Something other than the Mormon culture that seems to sneak into everything some way or another.

More than just getting away, I want to see something new. I want to expand my vision. Explore other ways of living. Other cultures. I want to watch people--the way they interact, walk, speak. Maybe I'd have a better idea of who my characters are if I could get into their worlds--the un-utah world in which they live. I want to talk to people. Make friends. Basically all I'm saying is I want to do some field research. I'm tired of the internet.

How do you work your character's situation/ideas/speech/behavior/etc if they're from Kentucky and you're from New Mexico? (or something like that) What do you do to create experiences for your characters if they're not your own?

Write on!


  1. I totally understand the feeling of needing to see something new!

    Guess that's what Google's for, eh? If I wrote in the real-world, I would just make up a town instead of using a real one--less research that way. My sister is writing a book set in Japan, and while she majored in Japanese and all that goodness, she's never BEEN there, but wanted to use real places in the story. Needless to saw she does a lot of research (and a lot of Google Mapping!).

    1. Yeah, that makes sense. My current character is a softball player. I have never played softball (except maybe as a high school freshman in gym class...in the gym, of all places) so I had to do a lot of research on that...I'll be honest and say I haven't done quite as much research as I should have done in that regard. I agree though, made-up towns are a lot easier to navigate than actual real towns. :)

  2. Since I just started my next book (set in the south) I've found that research has taken up so much more time than with any other project. As part of my MFA, I wrote a short story set in the south and researched that thing for two whole months before I got it down. I'm not finished with my new novel of course, I just anticipate this will take quite a bit longer because I'm still researching every step of the way. I'm getting the cadence of speech down, the food, the kinds of trees--it's exhausting all the details you don't realize you don't know about a place. But including them in here has made the place feel like another character, which was something I had a hard time with in my first novel. It never felt like it was somewhere... it felt like it was anywhere, which I didn't love.

    1. That's cool you have a better sense of character by having a place. I'm really excited to read your South book. Particularly excited about the moses voodoo ;)

      do you enjoy the research part? Do you like it as much as the writing part? Or more? Sometimes I almost feel like maybe the "research" stuff is more fun than actually writing...but mostly I don't like research and making it all up is more fun. You ever think you'll take a field trip as part of your research?