Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getting it Right - Accuracy with Real Settings

This is a picture my brother took of the view from Columbia Tower in Seattle. It is one of the places that I visited when I stayed with my brother last year. It was taken at night with some sort of fancy-pants filter that he uses on his bazillion dollar camera. I have one taken from my phone that I was going to use until he found out and sqwaked with indignation over it. Apparently it didn't do the city justice. His city.

I included a description of this view in my romantic suspense, Purple Knot, as sort of an interesting tidbit a character notices. It happens to be the view from a bathroom stall in the building. The stall's outer wall is floor to ceiling tinted glass so that you can look out over the city while you take care of business. This is a real thing locals show visiting friends.  I got a huge kick out of it.

That got me thinking about accuracy in writing. I've received emails from readers that live in the areas I write about and are so happy I got details correct and mentioned small establishments they frequent. It makes them feel like I've taken care with something dear to them...their home.

My current WIP takes place on Noble Island, a fictional setting based on the San Juan and Orca Islands off the coast of Washington. The photo to the left, taken by my brother, is of a lighthouse there and it is a place I use in my story. I hope to visit it in the winter.

Do you as a writer do anything to ensure you get the setting details correct? Sure, there's Google Earth and word of mouth, but have you found anything else that works short of visiting?