Several people have suggested that my recent trip to Ireland will lead to a new novel. Well, if you love novels set in Ireland, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I’ve discovered taking a cruise or a trip and then trying to write a story set either on a cruise ship or in a country/state that’s not familiar simply doesn’t work for me. For me, it’s like the writer who gets all wrapped up in researching a story. I find I want to tell too much about where I’ve been or what went on, and I lose track of my characters and the conflicts they’re facing.
I am bothered when I read a book where I feel as if I’m being presented with a travel log. I love it when an author uses real places or events and seamlessly weaves them into the story, but not when the details become intrusive. And that’s what I discovered when I’ve tried writing a story after a vacation/trip I loved. I had all of these wonderful notes I’d taken and memories I wanted to share, and I was putting all of that into the story until I realized…it just wasn’t working. Those details rather than enhancing my story were dragging it to a stop.
What I have done in the past (and something I strongly recommend) is write the story first, then go visit the location or take the cruise. At least get a rough draft of the story down. This way you know what to concentrate on when you’re at the location or doing something new. I’m sure you’ll discover things you hadn’t known ahead of time or thought you needed, but you won’t be trying to insert every experience into the story.
Of course, maybe you’re different than I am. Maybe you can take the trip and craft a story afterwards. I just know it doesn’t work for me, at least not immediately after the trip. Time does lessen my need to include everything I saw, felt, heard, or did. Distance from the experience allows me to use some of those reactions to flavor a story.
For those who wanted to see some pictures. Here are a few.