Friday, May 26, 2017

For the Veronica Slate mystery novels, I took photos of all my locations.

Another primary research tool which I depend on while trying to get my facts straight is photographs of my settings. 

As the late Robert Ludlum once told me, “When I decide where the settings of my book are going to be, I travel to the locations and I'll come back with all these crazy pictures I've taken, and they help me keep the details, the feelings of the locations.”

Of course, if your books are set in Paris or in the 18th century, you'll have to do a Google search for images. But you can still take shots of small details like costumes and such.

When I launched the Veronica Slate series of mystery novels, I took photos of all my locations.

I took nearly 100 pictures of the Don CeSar Resort Hotel where much of the action of Extreme Close-Up takes place.

All of my books were set in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Obviously, this makes it easier for me to select and see in person the settings for my stories.

But the important factor here is photographing the settings and using those photos effectively. The purpose of the photographs is to capture things you'll use in your book so that you can recall exactly how they appear when you're back home in front of the laptop or tablet.

However, and this is important, once you have gained the info, you must avoid the trap of using all of it.
Don't tell readers more than they want to know. In other words, don't use the information just because you have it.

You do not describe a setting in exact detail in your book. You use only the telling details which give readers the opportunity to fill in the rest of the scene. It’s better for you to know too much in order to write just a little bit. At least the little bit will be accurate and accuracy is important in fiction. If you only have a little bit of information, you tend to use everything you've got whether it’s important or not. When you have lots of information, you can be selective and choose just the best most telling details and your work will improve.

Connie Sellecca, the model for
my protagonist, Veronica Slate
I also cut photos out of magazines that look like my characters as I visualize them.
In fact, when they were painting the cover for Kill Cue, my editor actually asked me to email the photos I had used for Veronica. The cover artist then used them to design the cover. 
While beginning Father Figure, I collected more than 100 pictures of Sharon Stone, the model for my protagonist, Kate Mandolin.

Experiment to see what works best for you, but remember that readers expects accuracy and will often stop reading if your facts are not straight.
Get your facts straight in your fiction and readers will suspend disbelief and enjoy reading your book.
If you thought writing fiction was going to be easy, and all you had to do was just sit around and make up things, welcome to the Real World of Writing Novels; where facts are important so that readers believe your lies.

----- (From NOVEL SECRETS available in paperback and Kindle form.)

Lary Crews