Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Researching in Unexpected Places

Camp Nano  is overtaking my soul. While I'm so happy to have 10K words worth of revision into Tails (over 5K of that through Camp), having time to go to the movies, read a book, and blog would certainly be nice. So this is my way of saying don't shoot me if I start posting irregularly.

But I have learned my 1st lesson from camp. Research may come from the most unusual places.

Since this is not my first draft, but rather a 2.5 draft that I'm hoping will be completely legible when I'm done. Pausing for research is just as valuable to me as actually writing. So when I hit my first pothole, I calmly a analyzed the best way to fill it in.

One of my characters is fascinated by electric lights. So my description of his fascination can be "ooo! electric lanterns are cool!" No, he has to caress them. Be fascinated by...how the hell do you describe a "lantern"? I think it's time for some research.

A quick google search of lanterns and I can have the whole history of lanterns, but that's not what I need. I need descriptions and diagrams. Where can I find that?

Someplace unexpected: HomeDepot.com

Now, I can look at various shapes and sizes of lamps, and read little descriptions. I found words like flourish, beveled glass, mountings, and fluted details. Words I knew, but would never have applied to a lamp. I also knew what was important when describing it.

I found four lanterns I liked, and using one picture (and inspiration from 4 descriptions), I made my own description:

"He rushed towards the first [lantern] he noticed, dropping Cora’s arm and nearly climbing the wall to get a closer look. He looked at the glowing orb inside like a small sun in captured glass. His hand touched the beveled glass, measuring the heat. A test against the cool flourished Testlite mounting. Cora smiled, proud of her kingdom’s achievements."
I had to think outside of the box to get what I needed. Site that sell products are constantly writing descriptions of products - in an informative and marketable way. They make great sources for sticky descriptions, or just to learn terminology about something you're not quite familiar with.

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