At first, I wasn't going to book anything until I had completed the first draft of the manuscript. However, considering there was a long weekend coming up and I didn't want to go during stinger season (October to March), I figured I'd take the opportunity and go during the October long weekend. So I booked it all up - three days to explore the settings for my book - and I finished the first draft one week before my departure!
A little about the book...
Reunited is a category-length romance about Mirabella and Lincoln, high school sweethearts who spontaneously escape to Hamilton Island together. There's more to it, but that is essentially what happens. I was able to write the first draft based on my knowledge of the island, as I visited once more than ten years ago, and by poking around on the website. I did use a lot of sensory stimulation from the Strand though, which led me to walking along there every afternoon with a notebook in my backpack. I would walk one length to get my mind working, sit and write, and then walk back. If anything, this manuscript sure has kept me fit!
The Research Trip
What I Learned
Overall, my research trip was very successful, I enjoyed myself, and my book will be a thousand times better for it. Whether some of the finer details I gathered will end up in the next draft or not remains to be be seen, but I now know whether the little things will work or not, that it is too cold to enjoy the water in October (coincidentally, I went the same weekend that Mirabella and Lincoln arrive), and I have plenty of photos to refer back to as I get busy into the next draft.
There is honestly so much value in this kind of research to layer your novel, make it authentic, and give your reader a real experience. I wouldn't do this with every setting, but considering the Whitsundays are a famous holiday destination, I feel a reader would enjoy the novel more if they felt like they were really there. As a writer, it's my job to give my reader the best experience possible and I wouldn't have been able to do that without this trip.
Besides, I had fun as I was certainly in need of a holiday. And I'll admit, the wonder of scuba diving over the reef...it made me feel real joy for the first time in so long. Personally, that made it all worth it.
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