Finding facts for my fiction

Every time I write a book, I learn something—or lots of somethings. I write romance and women’s fiction novels. And I’ve been doing a lot of research lately.

Some readers may think only non-fiction books or historical and crime fiction needs research, but I’ve found that any book I write requires a fair amount of research. Some days I curse the internet, but when I want to get my facts straight, I am grateful for it. On those days, Google is my friend. So much information at my fingertips!

My current work-in-progress is set on a ranch in Texas, a couple of hours west of Dallas. The working title is Sunset Ledge, and it’s a sequel to my sweet romance The Story Between Us. In the past few days, I’ve read about what blooms or grows in April in the area. The average temperature this time of year, what time the sun rises or sets. My heroine is a biologist who likes to take pictures. So, I have to know when she needs a sweater or jacket. What time she has to get up to see the sunrise or when to be in the best spot to capture the sunset. IMG_3536(1)

If she’s out walking or riding a horse on a ranch, I need to know what kind of wildlife she might encounter. What kind of dangers could she encounter? I’ve studied up on poisonous weeds—the kinds that could make a cow sick. I’ve researched how mom and baby calves are protected and cared for, what happens when the mother cow gets sick or rejects a calf. I now know that coyotes prey on newborn calves, and that llamas (yep) can help protect the calves. I know what kinds of snakes and spiders might inhabit the area (ugh, poisonous ones). I know that pecans are grown in Texas. I know that a foal will attempt to stand thirty minutes after birth, and that the foal should nurse within two hours of birth.

In the course of writing over the years, I’ve learned about wearing a prosthetic limb and becoming a surrogate mother. I’ve watched YouTube videos about baling hay and propagation of roses. I’ve researched diseases and climates and careers and legal procedures. I’ve spoken to insurance agents and nurses and lawyers to make sure my scenes are accurate.

Believe it or not, there’s more to writing a book than sitting down at a computer and typing the story that’s in my head!

sunset ledge pinterestOne of the things I like to do when I’m starting a new book is to put together a visual storyboard on Pinterest. I can pin photos of what I imagine an area or home might look like. I can define characters—their hobbies and features—and drop in little details that relate to the storyline. It’s a fun way to strengthen the vision I have for the book and to give readers a glimpse of what I’m working toward. If you’re on Pinterest, I’d love to connect!


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey, Darlene, what a great post. I so relate. Research can keep you from making a huge mistake. While writing Tainted I discovered that the Federal Correctional Facility in town had been changed to a medical facility for criminals, so I had to come up with an idea of why the heroine’s ex-husband was there and not at a regular facility. So glad I kept digging. So, I want to know why you have the pic of that luscious cinnamon roll on your board? I’ve shared. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Maybe that’ll tempt someone to read the book! 🙂 It’s funny the path some of these things take!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vicki Batman says:

    I’ve even researched plumbing. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pat Amsden says:

    This is so true and readers will catch you on the strangest things. I had my character meeting up with another character at the local airport. She said I had the time for flying from Calgary was all wrong and I had to point out that you couldn’t walk into an airport, immediately board your plane and fly directly to your destination.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reggi Allder says:

    Hi Darlene, enjoyed your post! Research is so important. Making a mistake can take the reader right out of the story. For me, part of the fun of writing is learning something new for each book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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