"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Scene of the Crime

Do you guys do any scene visiting? Scoping out the places you set scenes in your writing? Personally, I love this, and, as luck would have it, large portions of my WIP(s) are set in DC. Which makes visits to this area have such a nice underlying purpose.

So what have I found so far this time?
For starters, I need to change the location already for one scene. Because, let's face it, no kid who can hang in DC on the Fourth of July would be anywhere else. Yeah, I know - Duh. They'd be right there with the hundreds and hundreds of Port-a-potties.

OK, this one's not a scene change, but here's how visiting can help.

Perfect location for a protagonist and his/her main romantic interest to have a romantic meeting? Looks pretty nice to me.

Perfect location for a protagonist and antagonist to have a nice battle? Lots of doors and stairways make it uber-interesting.

Or maybe I should switch them just to shake things up?

And, just for fun, can anyone identify either of the places in the photos?


On a fun, final note, I went to a BBQ tonight and visited with a friend. We were talking about just this topic - cool places around DC for scenes.
She mentioned The Senate Hart Building, and of all things said, "They have an Alexander Calder there."
If she'd said this to me two days ago, my eyes would have glazed over as I tried to figure out what the heck she was talking about.
But as it turns out, I started reading The Calder Game two days ago. I could totally relate. Is that bizarre or what?


keri mikulski :) said...

Weird... Yes, I go scene scoping. In fact, ironically, this weekend I was writing a July 4th scene at the beach. :)

PJ Hoover said...

How funny, Keri! Did you get the scene finished? I've never tried writing on-site, but I love the idea!

Christine M said...

Sounds like you had a fun - yet productive vacation.

As for scene scoping, I should do more of that. :)

PJ Hoover said...

You should, Chris. I see Hollywood in your future! And maybe even time travel :)

Jason said...

Those photos are really cool. You know the romantic scene in the scary building could actually be an interesting take on the "two destined lovers meet" scene.

Glad you're having a good vacation. I should go scene scoping. I've never actually tried it before.

PJ Hoover said...

That's what I was thinking, Jason. Do the opposite of what seems normal :)
You should go scene scoping. Fun!

laurasmagicday said...

LOVE the photos. And I like the idea of switching the scenes up. Good call. Romance in the concrete and fighting in the picture perfect park. Excellent.

Yes, I have done a photo shoot for one of my novels. It was so fun. I wanted to get a forest setting just right and also a scene at a train track. It's funny what I found when I went there as opposed to my memory. So many amazing details came to me that I had forgotten.

Great sleuthing! Very inspirational.....

TJ Brown said...

I would love to scene shop... especially in DC:)

Amy said...

I would love to scene shop. My current book is set in a small country just "north" of Italy. In a castle. Clearly, I need to a trip to Italy. And a castle.

Sheri said...

PJ I think this is definitely a necessary thing to do!! If you are writing about a factual place, that means there is a likelihood that people from there will read it and they will know if you know your stuff or not. Never fake it!

And besides, now you can claim this trip as a business expense! And that's always a good thing! Your hotel, food, travel... :) I say next time write about a novel that takes place in Italy or England or Hawaii!!!!

Tabitha said...

Yes, scene scoping all the way!

My WIP is set in New York City, but when I started writing it I'd never been there. Then I went to the SCBWI conference there last year, and took some extra time to scope out the city. Took pictures, visited relevant museums, all that fun stuff. It really helped me visualize where my characters were going to be. :)

beth said...

I don't actively scene shop (love the term, btw!)...but I do set scenes in books based on places I've already been, and I've been known to build scenes around new places I've been to.

Speaking of DC--have you been to the spy museum? It's near Ford's Theater, and that would be a great place for a battle!

PJ Hoover said...

Laura, it is amazing what seeing something in person really does. So much better than memory or internet. Do you ever make a scrapbook?

Hey Teri! I LOVE the term *scene shop*. I'm hereby making it a standard term.

Oooh, Amy. Italy and castles. Can I come alone to take notes for you?

I know, Sheri! It's nice to know I can deduct that $21 lunch at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum! And maybe I can figure out a way for my MC to travel abroad.

NY would be a great place for a novel, Tabitha! I went to SCBWI there last year also. My favorite things were the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and the Dim Sum in Chinatown.

I haven't been to the Spy Museum yet, Beth! I *think* it actually costs money :). Yes, I know. Growing up here with free museums is totally spoiling. And I'm with you on the term. It's perfect!

Jessica Burkhart said...

I've never tried that! Now I want to go travel and scene scope. :)

PJ Hoover said...

But, see, you can actually go horseback riding for book research, Jessica! how cool is that?