Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finally -- A Trip to Charleston

For several months I've been hinting around that I want to go to Charleston to do "research" for the ending of the book I'm currently writing. The first 75% of my story is set in Hartsville, SC, while the last quarter ends it in Charleston. I'm down to the last 4-6,000 words and I'll be finished with the first draft.

Since my novel is a historical set in 1810, I need authentic street names, landmark locations, the architect of homes and buildings, all of it the way it existed back then. A lot has changed in Charleston since 1810, and finding the accurate historical information I need can be a real challenge. I've been trying to estimate if my hero lives close enough to the Old Courthouse to walk. I was able to use mapquest on the existing residential addresses to get an idea of mileage.

Then I decided to layer in some sensory details and I made the statement that the hero could smell the salt of the sea. Stop. Could he? How many blocks away was Anson Street from the harbor, and was it close enough to smell at 4-5 blocks or even 2-3 blocks? A trip in person will tell the tale. Sometimes research books can't give you the sensory details an author needs, and only personal experience will do.

Thus, we are heading to Charleston for the weekend. I hope to discover all those tiny little details in person that are only possible through a personal research trip. I also plan to pick up some local regional books that are only being sold in the area.

Where have you visited to do personal research? Did it make a difference in your story? Could you have accomplished the same effect with the same accurate/authentic details?

Jennifer Hudson Taylor


  1. Jenn,
    Have fun in Charleston. I've never been but heard it's beautiful. I hope you find all the info you need.

    I'm going to Savannah next weekend for a bowling tournament, but plan on taking the camera and jotting down notes for setting for a book.

  2. Charleston is a wonderful place! Be sure to roam around downtown at the open market. Take a ghost tour if possible, too!

    L. Diane Wolfe