Putting Research to Good Advantage

If you are reading a book and lose interest in it, you probably realize you don’t like the characters or the plot. But you might also be annoyed that some of the details don’t ring true.

Often in a good story, the location is like an important character. Sometimes I can write about a place I haven’t visited–if I do a bunch of research. A few years ago I wanted to set a scene on Lincoln Road, the famous shopping area in Miami. Because I hadn’t been there, I got details from my daughter’s college roommate who was from Miami. I based the scene on what she told me, and I think it was true to the location. But later when I visited the area, I found it didn’t actually look like what I had pictured.

Not long ago, our friends’ son was getting married in Duck, North Carolina. They invited us to the wedding, and I decided that presented a wonderful opportunity to set a story in a southern beach town. The resulting novel is Scene of the Crime.

The wedding was at a mansion on the beach, and I use a similar location in the book. We also went to a lot of local restaurants. We stayed at a beach house the parents of the groom had rented for their guests. I noted the atmosphere of the town–observing that there were a lot of real estate offices, craft shops, clothing stores and new condo developments. And of course the beach and the ocean were important to the ambiance.

I went home and started plotting a story that took advantage of the location. It turned into a romantic murder mystery, because there were lots of opportunities for nefarious plots going on below the surface of the community.

The hero was framed for murder. But later DNA evidence proves his innocence. Bent on discovering the real killer, he has plastic surgery to change his appearance. Back in town he encounters the woman he has dreamed about the whole time he was in prison. But he can’t tell her who he really is, and he knows she will hate his duplicity. Then things really heat up when the actual murderers come after them. Can they prove his innocence, keep from getting killed, and work out their relationship before it’s too late?

It’s a complicated mystery with a lot of twists and turns–and a lot of the flavor of the beach town where it’s set.

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About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

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