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Honestly – take a drive to either a very secluded spot for a hike/walk, or go to a very public place and just walk around. Have absolutely NO expectations. Take about five minutes to clear your head, maybe grab a cup of coffee and have a newspaper with you, and as you walk around these two things will give you an excuse to be where you are. Example: You see a creepy guy hanging around a schoolyard – Pedophile!!!
Example 2: You see a middle aged man reading his paper and drinking coffee while watching children play – ah, novelist looking for ideas.
It also helps to get that shirt from target that says “just researching my novel”.
But seriously, just walk around and ask yourself what the heck people are doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or not… if it sounds interesting to you, then jot it down.
RIGHT – don’t forget a little mini-sized legal pad or small notebook. I LOVE those things. I also love my pda and laptop, but neither is as waterproof as paper and pencil. Sure, paper gets wet and floppy, but once it’s dry, the pencil is still there to be read. Not so much for a motherboard. And hard drive… sigh where oh where did my hundred pages go!
Best of luck. It’s Rion.Motley@gmail.com if you want to contact me to chat. Otherwise, happy writing.
P.S.: Also ask yourself why YOU are there… if you’re the protagonist in the novel, then go do things. Why are you picking up your cleaning… is it really a front for a Mob operation and your next mission as a hitman is in the pocket of the coat you just picked up?
Always ask why…