Real life in place of research

Writing new things often requires a significant amount of research. That is if I want to convince my readers that I know what I’m talking about (which I do). But thanks to some of the interests I’ve pursued, adventures I’ve had, and jobs I’ve worked, there are a few things I understand well enough I won’t have to research them.

  • Movie Theaters – My job for the last two years of high school was at the movie theater tucked behind the mall. I started at the concession stand and then learned to clean theaters after each show. From the yellow-orange sludge (aka unmelted butter) to the time Damien from The Omen watched me clean a theater, there are plenty of stories I could tell. So I’m all set if I ever write a story set at a movie theater.

    One benefit to working at a theater was getting to see movies early. Like one of the Harry Potter movies.

  • Women’s College – I earned my BA from a small liberal arts college that’s been around since before the American Civil War. It also happened to be a program that only accepted women. The female-only undergraduate program led to amazing friendships between women and a huge sense of female empowerment. Plus witnessing the general reaction to college age men on campus is something I needed to be a part of to understand.

    Not my picture, but I have plenty like it. There wasn’t a place on that campus that wasn’t pretty.

  • Plymouth Waterfront – The only traditional full-time job I’ve held was located only a block away from Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II. I could walk out the door and see Plymouth Harbor if I look to my left. More than once, I headed down on a day off just to explore Burial Hill (where some Pilgrims are buried) and to visit the souvenir shops that only opened in the summer. I still need to go on a ghost tour before I move, but I already have a lay of the land to base a setting on it.

    Plymouth Rock and the harbor behind it. Fun fact: the rock actually broke in half and they glued it back together.

  • Town Government Meetings – Working as a stringer for a local newspaper means I spend a couple nights a month sitting-in on local town government and school committee meetings. That’s taught me how to listen for quotes and write up the happenings for a newspaper. On the other end, it’s taught me how those meetings work along with what is (or isn’t) actually accomplished. I already have a story in the pipeline that utilizes these experiences.

    Add in a bunch of empty chairs and a bored reporter, and that’s pretty much a town government meeting.

Have you experienced anything that you can use in your writing? Or is there something that you’re excited to research?

5 thoughts on “Real life in place of research

  1. I guess you can always write a horror novel about a movie theater now…

    There’s one sentence I didn’t understand, though: What did you mean by “Plus witnessing the general reaction to college age men on campus is something I needed to be a part of to understand”? Just curious. Anyway, interesting post!

    • Thanks!

      My college was about 800 women undergrads. There were male teachers, about 50 male grad students, and one or two guys taking classes with special permission. So whenever a boyfriend or a guy our age walked into the dining hall or across the front quad, just about everyone noticed. Heads turned. People stopped talking. They stared. The guy probably thought he was the star attraction at a zoo.

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