Research!

RESEARCH…

You have this great idea for a book; you can see your hero and heroine clearly in your mind; you even figured out the details for the most fabulous ending to your manuscript. Needless to say, you are excited. You plop your backside in your chair and begin feverishly typing away, chapter after chapter. You are unstoppable! However, seems as though you skipped one very important step in creating your masterpiece… RESEARCH!

Even though you are writing fiction/fantasy, it is important to make it feel real to your audience. You want to take your reader to the world you are creating; capture and keep them from beginning to end. In order to accomplish this, your story must seem realistic and you do this by creating scenes a reader can easily relate to and clearly picture. So, it’s important to do your research!

If you’re writing a historical romance, it’s imperative that you do not have your characters riding off into the sunset on a motorized scooter, or refer to going to the saloon with their “homeys.” It would also not be acceptable for a character to break out an AK-47 or Uzi to fight the British during the Civil War, yelling that they are going to put a cap in you’re a$$ — none of these items belong together in any way. Things like this irritate your reader. It’s an insult. Readers are smart and want treated as such. They also don’t wish to feel like they wasted money when purchasing a book. Furthermore, it stops the flow of your story because your reader will stop, reread, probably shake their head, and may or may not choose to continue reading your book.

Now, these are major, blatant, over the top problems outlined above, but smaller ones are just as dangerous to an author and their reputation. It might sound petty, but really, it’s not. An example would be referring to everyone in let’s saySouth Florida, hiding in bedrooms in the underground basements of their beachfront homes just before a big hurricane makes landfall.South Floridais not known for having basements. There are a few homes with basements, however, it is not common practice, and you will not find entire beachfront communities built with them. Most ofSouth Floridais barely above sea level. Surprisingly, quite a few people know this fact and may not take your writing seriously should they run across mess-ups like this in your story.

It took two minutes of searching the internet to come up with the Florida Basement information listed at the end of this post. We have so many resources readily available nowadays that there is no excuse for writings such as those outlined above. As outlandish as the examples may sound, sadly, they are more common than one would think.

Look up facts, ask friends who live in the area you want your characters to be in and/or from, post questions on social network sites, the priceless information is never ending and can make your story that much better, that much more credible, and give it that much more umph! And let’s face it, we all like a little umph when we can get it. So take a few extra minutes, double check information, educate yourself for the sake of your characters, and take advantage of the unlimited resources we have now. You won’t regret it.

So here is a little education/fun facts regardingS. Floridahomes…

FLORIDA BASEMENTS:

MostFloridahomes are without basements. The reason is simple: the water table is far too high. Homes along theFloridacoastline are typically built on land with a water table literally within a foot of the ground’s surface! This makes a below the ground basement nearly impossible.

If you want to go below ground, you must install what’s known as well-points. These are small pumps – to look at them, you’d think they were giant hypodermic needles – and you place them every few feet in a line around the area you want to drain. By setting the bottom of the well-points down several feet, you can pull the water table down low enough to build a basement. Now this system does have its limitation. Given the high water table, you have to keep these well-points running all the time! This can run into some money. Plus, if there’s ever a power failure, you can end up with water starting to seep into your basement.

Another means of having a basement is to essentially put it above ground; this is very popular with coastal homes. AsFloridais – unfortunately – prone to hurricanes, the state has strict rules regarding homes built on the coast. The finished floor elevation of what they call the living space has to be above the storm surge elevation. The area below that is considered non-living space – the basement.

As the area can possibly be inundated during a storm, the building code is very strict about what can and can’t be put there, and how the homes must be built. First, pilings are used to support the main homes, and then the basement walls are what are known as breakaway. This means that – in the event of a storm, with water surging in from the sea – the walls will break off and float away, leaving the pilings in tack. This also means that the basement cannot be bedrooms, as the area is considered dangerous and expendable. So, people can use the basement for storage, a garage, and then what is known as non-essential areas: workshop, sewing room, playroom, and so on.

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