Thursday, July 8, 2010

Knowledge is Bliss

With my husband's change of schedule (Wednesdays and Sundays off), we've done a lot more mini vacations.  A few weeks ago we traveled to Allegany State Park and rode our bikes along the paths there, two weeks ago we went hiking, and yesterday we went to a 19th Century living history museum.

Though it may seem that these whole day trips take away from my writing time, what they add is far more valuable.  I grew up in the country surrounded by woods, so I've always had a pretty good knowledge base for nature.  However, over the last few years, I've been living in a city and I was beginning to forget just how quiet it could get in the woods, just how refreshing the sound of running water in a stream is, and the absolute beauty in the music of rustling leaves.

I like writing about things I've experienced so it was nice to refresh my memory on these points.  I often feel like a fraud if I'm trying to depict something in my WIPs that I really have no idea about.  There's always the fear that someone who knows better is going to call me out on it.  So, of course, I do a lot of research.  If I'm going to describe a particular area, I want people from that area to go, "yes!  That's exactly true!"

Luckily, with sci-fi, it's often possible to create a story world directly out of my imagination, but I still use what I've experienced to make everything seem more realistic.  For example, the first few chapters of Aurumenas are set on Talia, a desert planet.  My inspiration for this location was actually Kuwait.  During my few weeks in that country, I developed a certain awe for the absolute beauty of the open landscape (the sunsets, the sunrises).  Plus, it's easier to describe the effects of 130-145 degree weather when you've actually lived through it.

And yesterday I learned a few things about weaving, blacksmithing, spinning, and a plethora of other 19th century activities.  Will I ever need these facts for a sci-fi?  I don't really know, but it's certainly nice to have it at my disposal.  Some of the most mundane things can help solidify the reality of your story world, helping your readers to connect.

So how do you like to gather information?  Do you google, ask someone with first hand knowledge, or try to experience it for yourself?

~Emily White


  1. ditto!
    and i LOVE the fact that you applied your experience in kuwait to the WIP! brilliant! :)

  2. I use books, experience, google, friends, etc. Pretty much every think I do, see, read, hear...all is put into my books.

  3. I try to experience it, if possible. However, I mostly have to rely on books and pictures, and friends if they've lived in certain places before. But experiencing it first hand is always the best. :)


Yay! Comments! Oh, how I do love them! :D