Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Use Facebook to Research a Setting When You Can't Travel

The best way to research a real setting for your novel is to travel there, experience the place for yourself, and dig in deep with the locals.

But what if you can't travel?

If you're on a tight budget like I am, the plane tickets alone are out of the question. Maybe you have a different reason you can't travel. Whatever your case may be, there are other ways to research a place for your setting. Here's how I'm using Facebook to research San Diego, which happens to be my setting and oh so different from my Michigan home.

Join Groups

I went to the search bar at the top of Facebook, searched "San Diego," and then narrowed my search to look through groups. Here, I looked through a long list of groups and requested to join as many as I could that had anything to do with my book or could give me insight into San Diego life. I joined a few groups about food because food tells us a lot about culture. I joined vague everything-San Diego type of groups, where I can watch the various topics and ask locals questions. I also joined  San Diego artist and photography groups to match character interests. Since some groups will deny you if they see you're not a local, join as many as you can to increase your chance of acceptance. (DISCLAIMER: Always be safe and use your best judgement when joining anything online.)

Follow Local News

Next, I liked/followed a couple local San Diego news pages so I can keep up on everything happening there from weather to crime to events. I read not only the news posts, but also the comments so I can gauge the people's reactions and views. 

I've been using Facebook as a research tool for a week now, and I've already added a few elements to my story I wouldn't have thought to incorporate otherwise. 

Now I'd love to hear from you! How do you research a place without actually visiting? What setting are you researching right now? If you try the Facebook method, let me know how it goes!

Jessie Mullins is wife to her middle/high school sweetheart. Together, they have a son who just so happens to be the sweetest boy in the world. Jessie blogs on YAtopia and her personal mommy blog, Her Arms Are Strong. She writes and adores YA. Visit her Facebook page for more bookish things.

1 comment:

  1. That is such a clever way to research! Very fresh and new. I'm definitely going to try that one out!