Still can’t believe how fast this has gone… it’s insane. Next week will be the last post, and I’m so not ready for that… 😦 But all things must come to an end, and I’ve learned a lot from doing this! There will be more series’s in the future of Bookwise.
There is nothing- and I repeat, nothing– like being able to see something and experience something that your characters might see and experience within your story. Whether that is something as mundane as trying the kind of coffee they like or elaborate as going to Mongolia to meet the descendants of Genghis Khan, everything can teach you something new. If you travel somewhere, imagine what similarities it may have to your own settings. Hike, and soak in the sensory detail. Visit your MC’s hometown and go to the coffee shop they frequent. Sit outside and observe- how do the people talk? What do they talk about? What smells are there? What tastes linger on your tongue? Every single mundane detail is a detail that can make your story so much richer.
Obviously, though, not everyone has the chance- whether it be for financial reasons, for work or for school or simply for a lack of practicality. In this case, I’ve found Google Earth to be a LIFESAVER. When I was doing research for my Inverness scenes in Lady of Rain, streetview was a MASSIVE help. I could see the basic layout of the streets, see the buildings and intersections and weather and #yes. If your characters are going on a road trip, Roadtrippers is absolutely excellent. You can plan routes and see what hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc are nearby. It’s like window shopping- but for travel.
The National Geographic blogs and photo collages are incredible resources, as well, and you can not only get stories but stunning photos of various places all over the world. They are awesome for fantasy locations, tbh- it’s not hard to imagine dragons or elves in some of those pictures; they’re totally surreal!
But back to traveling, a word of caution: Taking part in ‘dark tourism’, or the travel to places associated with death, destruction, and general devastation, can be done both horribly wrong and correctly. Choose the location carefully, and be sensitive to those that are affected by it. Is there any possibility of disrespecting them? Then either be careful or don’t go at all. Dark tourism is not entertainment. Go to learn, not to sightsee, and find your characters’ parts in it all. How would they have survived (or died) in a death camp? How would they react to a battle in the neighbor’s field, and what would it have been like to witness that? Many things can be learned through dark tourism, but there’s a thin line to walk.