WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, THEN CONSULT YOUTUBE!
I’m currently working on the prequel to The Balance of Fear. There is a lot in both novels that is informed by my direct experience. I was in MA and MFA programs and worked in higher ed for sixteen years. I grew up around criminal sex offenders and dealt with my share of petty predators over the years. I have a sister who was stalked by someone she didn’t know.
But no shock here, unlike my main character and her friends, I’m not a Broadway dancer.
That’s where YouTube comes in. With a simple search I was able to get virtual backstage tours of three different Broadway productions. What an education! First, the ceilings are low and covered in black acoustic tile, and the cinderblock walls are painted a dull white, which I didn’t even think was possible. Dull white? Yes! Dead dull. Even the doors to the dressing rooms are made of sad, whitewashed plywood.
But creativity will out, and apparently, I’m not the only one who expects there to be a bit of magic, even backstage Broadway. Each of the venues had a mural related to the performance. Images from the set, scenes, costumes, or characters were painted along the walls, ran up stairways and over dressing room doors. The length of the production’s run determined the length of the mural. And each mural was dotted with the signatures of performers who had left the production and the dates of their departure.
Wow did that detail fit into my narrative and provide some lovely foreshadowing to boot!
It’s not just YouTube either. Google Maps is a great resource. I had to change the location of a warehouse that backed up on the Hudson because there aren’t any warehouses that back up onto the Hudson in the area that I’d written one into. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I think it does. It matters to me.
I do a lot of research as I write. Not just because I want to get things right but because the research feeds my creativity. My mind catches on details and spins out from there in directions it may not have gone otherwise. It’s just so darn fun!
Give it a try. And check out my first novel The Balance of Fear. Prequel coming soon!