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.
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!
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