As you can see I have been bust enjoying our road trip and did not schedule this post, so apologies for being late today. As writers we gain inspiration in numerous ways, so the question today is. What has been the most inspirational or fact finding trip you have taken?
The photo is of money from around the world found in a small hamlet pub on our trip this week.
Last week’s question: Where would you go for the perfect writing retreat?
Pamela Allegretto The island of Capri at the top of Anacapri.
Bren Leyland Oxford. Or a room that overlooks a green space or garden.
Mandy Eve-Barnett It will come as no surprise that I would choose Rome or beside an ocean.
Research is a vital component of many of our narrative’s and we endeavor to ensure the technicalities are exact. This is especially true when we are writing about something we have no personal knowledge of. The internet, can give us some information but we should not rely on it 100% – there have been cases of mis-information.
Say we require a character to be fighter pilot, as it is unlikely we can find or have personal experiences of this, we could try search engines but it may be limited. We must then delve into the history books and hopefully find people, who are willing to assist us in gathering as much information as possible to make the character come alive on paper.
My current word in progress, Willow Tree Tears, has a barrel racer as a central character. As I have only attended one small rodeo and, although I have ridden horses, I’ve never competed on one, I required first hand experience. Luckily, the internet is a great resource for finding people and organizations and so I was able to read descriptions and view photographs of rodeo’s to give me an idea of how the venue would look and sound. I also intend to attend a rodeo before the manuscript is finalized so I can make further authentic revisions.
However, in the meantime I really wanted a champion barrel racer to read the relevant sections of my story to approve the authenticity of them. So I sent out several requests via facebook and through personal websites to several barrel racers – graciously two replied and are reviewing the segments for me. I will thank them both by naming them in the finished novel and giving each of them a copy to review. (May be I will actually see them compete!)
We need to go that extra mile to ensure our readers – with or without knowledge of the subject matter – are confident we have written a true reflection of the particular subject in our novels. We can’t have a cell phone in 1650 or hovering cars in 2000, so it is true with the careers our characters have – no matter what century they are set in.
What have you researched for a novel? Why did you pick that particular career/venue/organization?
The title says it all – learn to take turns – this is a barrel racing saying. One of many I learnt while researching my current WIP, Willow Tree Tears. It was certainly a journey into a world I had no previous knowledge of. Isn’t that what makes writing fiction all the more exciting?
The barrel racing course itself is a series of sharp turns in a clover-leaf shape, as you can see from the diagram below. A figure-eight pattern was the initial barrel racing circuit but has been replaced by the favored clover-leaf course, which demands a higher skill level. When watching these events I marveled at the synchronicity of horse and rider at speeds that were astonishing.
To begin a barrel race, the horse and rider enter the arena at top speed, through the center entrance. An electronic timer beam records the horse and rider as they cross it. This timer runs until the beam is crossed again at the end of the run.
Modern barrel-racing horses need to be fast, strong, agile and intelligent. To maneuver the course in as little distance as possible requires physical strength and agility from the horse as well as the ability to follow commands from the rider. Horses that can “hug the barrels” and maneuver the course quickly show up by their consistently low times. The favored breed for barrel racing is the American Quarter horse. The history of the breed began in the 17th century with British thoroughbreds paired with ‘native’ horses, (Chickasaw), which in turn were descended from horses brought over by the Conquistadors. Such as the Iberian, Arabian and Barb and wild horses.
The Girls Rodeo Association, (GRA) was the first organization specifically developed for women, who wanted to compete in rodeos. It was formed in 1948 by a group of Texan women consisting of only 74 members and having a limited 60 approved tour events. The group officially changed its name to the WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) in 1981.
In 2013 the WPRA celebrated sixty five years of women in rodeo. The WPRA . . . the past, present, and future of women in rodeo!
Subsequent to writing my narrative, I found out a new ‘reality’ TV program is on air – Rodeo Girls. However, the authenticity of its portrayal of women in rodeo is open to discussion.
Why does every show have to glamorize and falsify ‘real’ life?
I read many derogatory comments on a forum once the show was aired from barrel racers appalled at the depiction of their profession. I am happy to declare my narrative is true to the real barrel racers and their lifestyle.
Willow Tree Tears is a romance which follows my protagonist, Trinity, a champion barrel racing young woman. Trinity must decide between two men. A man she has known since high school and who lives the ranching and rodeo life and a suave globe trotting Italian. She is determined and focused in her sport and lives on a Quarter horse stud with her father. Can she resist the lure of the unfamiliar? Is marrying her ‘kind’ best for her and her father’s hopes for her future and the ranch?
The launch of Willow Tree Tears is still under negotiation but I will announce it as soon as a date is finalized.
What have you learnt about through novel researching?