This week's guest blogger is K. Dawn Byrd. She is a fellow Desert Breeze Publishing author, whose suspense novel, Killing Time, is set to be released in the summer of 2010. But K. Dawn is currently working on a WWII romance that is scheduled for release this coming April. Here's what she has to share about researching this story.
K. Dawn Byrd
I've never had to do much research for my books. That is, until recently when I tackled a historical. It's a WWII romantic suspense that should be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in April if all goes as planned. I've been somewhat of a WWII buff for years, but realized just how little I knew about the era when I began writing. Google searches have been helpful as has eBay. For example, I was looking for a hotel in New York where my heroine, who is a spy, would pick up a message for the O.S.S. I searched eBay and found a 1945 menu for the Hotel Astor. I placed the scene in the hotel and chose her meal from the menu.
I'm a plotter. Before I begin a new manuscript, I spend a couple of weeks researching. Recently, I started a series about a female bail bondsman and was lucky enough to have a friend who is a bail bondsman who was willing to answer my questions. It's always good to find someone in the field if possible. Also, I've found Yahoo groups to be helpful. There's a group for just about everything you can think of. For example, I'm a lurking member of a group of crime scene writers and have gleaned a lot of information from their posts.
Before I start writing, it's an absolute must that I know my characters well. I have used character worksheets to help me get acquainted with them. You can find several of these by doing a Google search. Also, Jeannie Campbell at http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com/2009/04/author-know-thy-character.html can be of great help. She's a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and will answer your questions about your characters on her blog. With a little bit of a background, she can tell you why they act the way they do so that you can build believable characters.
Another useful tool I've used to help me get to know my characters is Debra Dixon's book, Goal, Motivation & Conflict. This book helps me explore what my character's goals are and why they have those goals. The conflict comes in when I place an obstacle in their path that keeps them from meeting that goal. Let's say your heroine's goal is to get married. Her motivation is that she's lonely and wants someone to share her life with. The conflict comes in as you ask "Why can't she meet this goal?" Maybe her mother runs eligible bachelors off. Maybe she wants to get married so badly that she pushes herself on men and scares them off. Get the picture?
I've found that I actually enjoy research. In addition, I devour books on editing and learning the craft, ever striving to become a better writer. I hope you've found some of the tools I use to be helpful in your own writing. That said, it's time I get back to work on my historical. Good luck with your research!
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