In the “Information Age”, creating a piece of writing has become far easier than ever before. For example, when writing about a foreign land, you do not have to actually visit that land. Of course it helps, and can make your writing more realistic and compelling but, with so much information at the tips of your fingers, along with a little creative searching, you can pretty much travel anywhere in the world while sitting at home – and take your readers with you!
Make research your best friend
Needless to say, if you’re going to write about a place you’ve never visited, you’ll need to learn as much about the place as you possibly can. Research is your friend, and you’ll spend a great many hours online, reading, and studying if you hope to capture the look and feel of the place; not to mention the attitudes of the people, the sights, and even the smells of your foreign location.
Truly, if you do NOT enjoy researching your subject, and that includes a foreign location, you may want to try another avocation. For those who enjoy learning about new things however, and sharing those things with others, here are some places you can go to research that spot on the planet you’ve never visited:
- Read books that are set in your location or locations.
- Check out National Geographic for the topography, flora, and fauna.
- Peruse travel magazines for famous, and not-so-famous tourist locations, restaurants, and bars.
- Talk to people who’ve been there to get a sense of the people who inhabit your location, including their attitudes toward foreigners.
- Find a great researcher to help you, especially if you have a friend or family member who’ll help at no cost.
- GFGI – Go Freakin’ Google It! Get as much info as you can before you begin to try to describe the place.
- And, when all else fails, take a trip to the place you’re writing about!!!
It’s very common to spend hours and hours on research before writing a two page description of a particular location, which may then be left behind. But, if that description is critical to your story’s narrative or plotline, or to the dialogue or actions of a character, there is no way around it – it simply MUST be done.
Attention to detail will make your foreign location more real to the reader, as will interesting descriptions of exotic locations. If you provide your reader with entertaining, cinematic flourishes, your writing should have global appeal. This will help to broaden your market and audience, hopefully leading to creating a Best Seller!
I’ve found a great resource for emerging writers of every type: fiction, articles, blogs, and more. Writer’s Digest is a site by writers, for writers, and can likely help you to find better sources of information for your research.