Welcome to a new short series on tips and tricks for the actual writing the book. I talk a lot about marketing, publishing, time management and blogging, and you can’t do any of that without an actual book. So over the next five weeks, enjoy these “shorts” meant to address just a few aspects of completing your book.
Research is always a little bit tricky these days. With so many different sites and mere opinions being stated as fact, and the growing alternative facts out there, it’s getting difficult to know whether or not content creators are putting out good stuff or presenting their own conjectures as fact.
Recently, I had one of my characters take a road trip and I wanted to plot out their long trip. They lived “near me” in a rural area and I wanted to know various stops along the way, what they might stop to enjoy and how long it would take and what was the local faire like. To give your stories more authenticity and realism, consider these additional, easy tips (all from the comfort of your own home).
Find out who the local reporters are and read their recent posts on their Facebook and Twitter pages
Find the name for the Chief of Police – people they are looking for, what safety awareness campaigns they are doing, and the types of crimes committed will give you a feel for the town and what kinds of things happen and the people that live there
Find the name of the best chefs. Most larger cities have a “Best Of” list to showcase leading venues, and what’s special from restaurants, dentists, to doctors and other types of businesses
My favorite is to get a hold of and read the local paper – every paper nowadays is digital, I had someone write me once from Macon, Georgia -years ago about Come What May- she was honored that I’d mentioned her local hospital and she was a nurse there.
Watch “their” local news – that’s how you find the reporter’s names and what they do, what they cover
Look for the FULL story (and continuing coverage / updates, over several days) on the network’s site as the news segments will only give a small piece of the puzzle
Look at maps and and use the directions option, then ask the map provider, to find things like eateries and shopping along that route
Read reviews (be sure to take them with a grain of salt, especially overly glowing or overly negative reviews) but they can tell you a lot about what people like, what’s fun and what’s interesting in the community, what there is to do and any special events that are coming up or may have passed; and, last but not least
Read the University’s newspaper – you can find out where young people hang out and what they like to do for fun
At the end of the day, remember to trust but verify (and embellish) for entertainment purposes only, we’re writers that’s our job, after all.