Research, the writers excuse for road trips
You can get caught up in research. I always do. The useless facts I know about Ireland are many and this is where I learned to curtail it. Plot first, and then the rest will come along with your need to know. Writers love interesting useless facts and we get lost in our favorite past time, finding new ideas for a story.
I say that for contemporary. Yet if you are writing a historical, get ready to do some work. Having written about 20 of them, I suggest you pick an era and research the hell out of it. From clothes to manners, to rank of lords, ladies, servants and their dress as well as location of your chosen era. Historical romance readers are very well versed and the instant they find a flaw, you’ve lost credibility. One key to making a historical feel real to the reader is not using any modern language. Research it. I have 24 dictionaries about everything from household items to wicked words which is exactly what it sounds like (and the title of the book)
The same goes for any genre; plot first, research second. If you think you need to take a research trip to Scotland or Ireland, you don’t. I’ve never set foot on Irish soil and yet have received several letters from Irish men and women about my books and accurate picture I’d painted of their country. You don’t take a research trip without a strong plot in your hands or you wouldn’t know where to start. Read Rhonda’s post. She researched a trip in nearby Savannah.
Researching setting is essential and tossing in topical points. Food joints, taxi service, local amusement. It gives your story location flavor.
There are people on Wiki-travel who post video and photos of their vacations. God love them for that, I needed it for my last Dragon One. I strongly advise you follow my rule when I was a journalist. Document it three times and I don’t mean all on line. Wikipedia is not always correct. Neither are any of those viewer edited sites and if you trust them, you’re in for a surprise. A writer gets the facts right. I’m not willing to risk my reputation on it. However, its fiction. No limits and nothing is illegal. Make it up. We do it all the time. You think Dragon One exists? Or the legend I used in Damage Control? No, but their equipment and weapons do. I’ve described the recoil of a 9mm long before I had the chance to fire one. It’s loud and you’d better have strong shoulders to hold it out straight to aim.
I don’t have to ride in a carriage to know it would rattle my teeth.