Hello All! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! To find out more about IWSG (and to sign up), click here.
So what am I insecure about this month? The same thing I’m always insecure about: my novel(s) in progress. Some of you may remember me blogging about this particular story in a post called Story Rehab: Fixing Plot Holes. At that time, I couldn’t figure out what happened to the main character the night of the fire.
Well, here I am again, facing something that I’m sure most writers have dealt with: I hit a roadblock because I need to do research. Normally, I avoid this in my writing because most of the towns I write about are fictional. But I couldn’t get away with that this time. Because of the novel’s plot, I had to set it in an actual Louisiana town. Which town? Good ole Baton Rouge (which means “red stick” in French, by the way).
There’s a part in the novel where the main character, for certain reasons, needs to break into the governor’s mansion. Yes. You heard that right. I Googled how it might be done but of course, there wasn’t any information about it. And the last thing I wanted to do was call the person who schedules tours of the mansion and say, “Yes. My name is Quanie Miller and I’m trying to find out how to break into the governor’s mansion. Hello? Hello?” I imagine that my front yard would immediately fill with blue lights and the good folks at the F.B.I would want to have a conversation or two with me.
So guess what? I was in my hometown last week and took the drive to Baton Rouge to get a good look at the mansion. I had gotten to the part in the novel where the character gets into her car to drive down there, but I couldn’t visualize it. And let me tell you: that mansion is a thing of beauty! I took pictures of the road that leads there and drove around the neighborhood in the back of the mansion (and took pictures of the fence). As my husband and I were driving, I saw a man walking through a nearby park. He had what looked like a headset on so I knew that he was secret service. My husband said, “What makes you say that?”
“I watch Scandal,” I said. “Trust me: I know about these things.”
I didn’t want to get out of the car and walk near the mansion because I could imagine the headline and accompanying news article:
Woman found skulking near govenor’s mansion.
“…after further investigation, F.B.I discovered the woman had been researching how to break into the governor’s mansion and called the tour coordinator inquiring about the same. Woman insists she was doing research for a novel. Authorities are dubious. Charges are pending.”
I found out some basic information online: how the outside of the mansion looks, and how part of the inside looks (the part that’s accessible to the public), but the character needs to go further into the house to find what she’s looking for. I imagine that, for security reasons, there are no blue prints of the mansion online. It’s dawned on me that I’m going to have to make this stuff up: how the other rooms in the house look, etc. And that’s my issue. Because the mansion is an actual place, I’m worried about people saying, “but that couldn’t happen!” Or, “Hey! It doesn’t look like that! The family room is on the second floor next to the guest bedroom, not on the first floor near the kitchen!” But in order for me to finish this story, I’m going to have to take some creative liberties.
What do you guys think? Am I worrying for nothing? Have you ever hit such a roadblock with a story? What did you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!