Camp NaNoWriMo – Stationery and Field Trips!

Tomorrow I start the mammoth task of turning my 70,000 word manuscript into a finished novel. I may not finish in the month of April, but I plan to put a shed load of work in. 60hrs or more.

I had a little personal celebration moment today and indulged my stationery addiction. Look, new binders! One of which I actually needed! The other two I bought because there was a 3 for 2 offer… not sure what I’ll do with them yet.


Part of the reason I wanted to celebrate was because today I decided to build a field trip into my Camp NaNoWriMo month. I’m going to Oxford, one of the main settings for my novel, Mime. While I’m there I’m going to visit the Bodleian Library on the Oxford University campus for a guided tour.

A lot of what I write is set in fictional universes; either fantasy realms, other planets or futuristic versions of our world which only bear a passing resemblance to where we live now. It’s a lot easier to write when you can create your locations from scratch. With Mime I have had to take a different approach. Set in present day, real world cities and areas of the UK, it needs a fine balance between accurately described real world places and imaginary places that would fit into the wider real world locations.

Place is something that has to be experienced in my opinion. Even with such powerful tools as Google Earth and Streetview it’s hard to get a feel for somewhere you have never been. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale, weather, people or vibe of the place.

I want my readers to believe the story I tell takes place in a place they know, and to do that I need to go there and, if possible, write the scene in the location.

Other places on my “To Visit” list include:

  • Oakhampton and Dartmoor
  • Castle Park and Victoria Square in Bristol
  • Debenhams in Bristol
  • John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals in Oxford

How do you research real world locations? Do you take field trips to places that will feature in your books?

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