Recently I returned from a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, one of my favorite spots to visit but also the area where I have set a number of novels. As I walked around Stanley Park and along the waterfront I thought of how a similar walk had given me the idea for my first romantic suspense novel, Deadly Messages. Stanley Park is a beautiful location with great views of the city skyline from one side and glorious ocean views from the sea wall on the other, but it also has acres of dense forest where I thought a body could be buried. I put the two together in that book, with a woman walking along the sea wall and worrying when her sister jogs off in front of her and then never shows up at their appointed meeting spot.
As I walked the sea wall, I thought about how I had totally immersed myself in that story as I walked around the wall and came up with the idea. This time around I realized I often do the same thing when writing other stories. I wasn’t in Vancouver when I wrote Deadly Messages. I had to go back home to Denver, but I kept putting my mind in Vancouver as I wrote the story. I find I still do that. I can close my eyes and feel the sea mist hitting my face just as my character did as she walked around the sea wall, searching for her sister in vain. As I walked around it this time I found myself examining everything I could, as well as closing my eyes to breath in the scents and feeling the cool ocean breeze and listening to the lapping waves hitting the rocks. I knew I could use those sensations next time I was sitting at home on my computer and writing another story set in Vancouver or even the northwest along the ocean. I’ve had friends and readers asking for a sequel so I am working on that now.
The technique of simply closing my eyes and bringing to mind the smells and sights of other locations and other works also. As I write about a snowy night on the back roads of New Mexico where my current book, Dead Man’s Treasure is located, I find myself closing my eyes and putting myself in a car driving through a snowstorm. I’ve driven roads in southern Colorado or New Mexico in winter and made myself be aware of the sights, smells, feel and touch of the region. I practice that same method wherever I go and whenever I travel—I absorb the atmosphere through all my senses for use later in a story. Sometimes I do it simply by closing my eyes and feeling the location and by trying to see as much as possible when my eyes are open. I called it drinking in the ambience of a location, feeling it and storing it away so it can be recalled later when needed.
My feeling is that a writer needs to put him or herself into a location, even though he/she is sitting in a closed room when writing the story itself. Close your eyes and call to mind the feel of snow or the warm ocean breeze. Even if you haven’t been there, think about it as you write. Setting can be critical to a story and taking your reader there can add a lot to the book. I find myself doing that when I am working on a story.
And I don’t just do that when I am traveling. Whenever I visit a small hometown restaurant or coffee shop, or even on a city street, I find myself drinking in all the sights and sounds of the crowd or the hush of a park in the afternoon. Even walking in a silent snowstorm might be useful sometime in the future.
So drink in the ambience wherever you are. You can always use it in a future story.
In two weeks, I’ll be immersing a class in writing query letters as I teach my next Savvy class. This one is on how to write a good Query letter. I love teaching this class because it’s a step by step process and I have had a number of people who actually get their queries written as part of the assignments.
I hope you’ll join me!
Workshop Blurb: A good query letter can be every bit as important as the opening pages of your novel. It’s your first opportunity to show your writing skills to a prospective agent or editor. Make it count! Make it shine! A good query letter should make that editor and agent want to read your material instead of simply casting it aside to look at some other time. How can you learn to write the perfect query letter? What should be in your query? How do you start and how do you tell enough without getting too long winded? Here’s a chance to learn how to make those query letters sing and how to make agents and editors look forward to your work. Get practical information and the chance to work on your own queries and have them critiqued.
For more information, check it out here.
[box type=”bio”] Becky Martinez is an award winning former broadcast journalist who writes romantic suspense, mystery and romance under the pseudonym of Rebecca Grace. Visit her website at www.rebeccagrace.com. She also teaches writing classes and presents writing workshops and does a weekly blog with writing tips, www.writethatnovel.blogspot.com.
She was co-author of the book, Ten Steps to Creating Memorable Characters, and is currently writing a series of booklets for aspiring authors with Sue Viders – Let’s Write a Story. The newest booklet is Seven Ways to Plot. Becky’s newest romantic mystery, Blues at 11, was published by The Wild Rose Press and she is currently working on a sequel to her romantic suspense, Dead Man’s Rules, also from TWRP. www.thewildrosepress.com.[/box]
Investigative producer Connie Romero is determined to find out who murdered her sister during an afternoon jog. But putting her investigative skills to work might also be putting her life–and heart–in danger. First, she discovers that her sister’s life was not as idyllic as she thought, and she’s getting an uneasy feeling that she’s getting too close to the truth.
And then there’s that crazy feeling she gets every time she deals with a certain Inspector!
Canadian Inspector Mitch Weldon respects Connie’s motives and determination, but he has his own case to solve–a serial killer leaving bodies dumped in the park where Connie’s sister was found. Could the cases be related? He needs to find out and find out fast.
He doesn’t need an amateur getting in the way of his job, nor does he want a woman getting into his carefully planned life.