In the real estate business, they say that the three most important things when buying property are location, location, location. When writing a book, it may not be as evident it is in real estate, but location is certainly a key ingredient to a good story.
My novel, which by the way now has a working title of “The Truth,” opens in Columbus, Ohio. Believe it or not, Columbus is not one of the dozen or so cities I’ve lived in during my 37 years of life. However, for the last 19 years, I have lived within an hour or two of Ohio’s capital. So it is a city that I am pretty familiar with. My brother, Dave, and his wife, Kelli, and my niece, Mallory, live in Columbus. I have spent many hours scouring the city’s comic, used book, and CD stores for hidden treasures. I have been to concerts and sporting events across the city. And my family looooooooooooves shopping at Polaris and Easton.
So once I decided that I was going to have a female college student as one of my main characters, and since I wanted her to be relocated to the Midwest from New Mexico, and since THE Ohio State University is the second largest university in the country in terms of enrollment, it made sense to pick a nearby locale for her.
This choice had a few benefits. One, I am already pretty familiar with the area, making it easier to write about. Two, it is very close so I can easily go down for a scouting trip if I need or want more details.
Earlier this week, Erin and I were in Columbus for a business meeting so I decided we should take a quick trip to campus to find the dorm that Anne and Brandie live in. Thanks to having mobile Web and GPS on our Blackberries, we were able to find the dorm and get a first-hand view of the dorm and the surrounding area mentioned in the book. It felt really good to be able to see for myself what the area looks like in detail. There was nothing special or unique about the building. It was just another brick dorm. I had driven very near the dorm before on High Street and Lane Avenue but now, knowing that these were the same sights that Anne and Brandie were seeing every day, I was seeing them with new eyes – with their eyes. Now when I am writing descriptions of the area, I will have fresh data to work with. I am planning more trips to the area to scout other locations around Columbus that may end up being used. in “The Truth.”
I’ve got family all over the place that I can visit and use to scout locations. My maternal grandmother, her two daughters, Sue and Carolyn, and Sue’s two sons, Chris and Dan, all live in Joliet, IL, near Chicago. My dad lives in Georgia. Erin’s ex-husband just moved to Florida and has invited us all down. Might as well multi-task: take a vacation and scout locations. Never know where your story may take you. I’m thinking about using Hawaii or California in my book so I can write off a trip as a business expense. 🙂
Any of you have any locations you think would be good for use in my book, or maybe I can use it in a future book? Let me know your thoughts.