Saturday, October 13, 2012

Research in Fiction

After writing research papers in college it was never a goal of mine to continue this practice, accept under duress, after graduation. But, in order to make fiction believable it is often necessary to learn more about places, cultures, technology, time periods and even science as is the case in a couple of my books in progress. When it comes to science I must confess I don’t always understand everything I read, but hopefully I grasp the general concepts enough to make the story realistic.

Some investigation is hands on. I’ve visited Mayan Ruins, national parks, and decommissioned missile silos all in the name of research. Observation is another key tool in order to develop realistic characters and scenes. Sometimes I come up with a concept I’d like to incorporate, but need to do a little digging to see if it’s feasible. In Marked in Mexico I wanted something to push the characters even closer to the edge, something beyond their control. I thought about malaria. I’ve seen the devastating effects of the disease up close on numerous occasions, but only after studying the dispersion map in an article in the July 2007 issue of National Geographic did I decide that, though not prevalent in most of Mexico, it’s not out of the realm of possibility where my book is set. I also study maps when creating a local for a new story. I don’t need an exact location, but I do need to make sure the fictional ranch I envision along the border of the Big Horn National Forest could exist or towns currently function where I need ghost towns in Desperate Dreams 

I enjoy reading and writing non-fiction, but my passion has always been adventure fiction. My primary goal is to entertain and offer escape, but in a way which encourages the reader to get involved with the characters and in the story and maybe even ask, “what if?” So, dog-ear the articles, clip the newspapers stories and surf the net. Sprinkle the facts throughout the story, mix well and you have a recipe for success and fiction that feels real.

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