Monday, January 18, 2016

Writerly Immersion by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
One of the things I love most about being a writer is the process of immersion.

What do I mean by that? I equate immersion to those programs that allow people to do a deep and thorough dive into, say, a foreign language, or a foreign culture. It’s about the process of learning by being ‘dropped’ into a specific time or place. It’s about direct knowledge. Internet research fine-tunes and answers a bevy of questions; immersion is somewhat different. It’s more direct, and tactile. I embrace the story I create by experiencing the places and things that touch the lives of my characters. 

For example, when I wrote my books Devotion and Forgiveness (which releases later this year) my husband and I took a number of road trips to Nashville, Tennessee. I didn’t just record restaurant names and hot-spot locales, I literally walked the path of my heroes and heroines. I ate at the restaurants I mention in the books, studied the countryside, its textures and colors and scents, all of which, I hope, lends authenticity to the words I write.

For Christmas at Tiffany’s I called upon a magical Christmas voyage I took to New York City with my daughter years ago.  We stayed at a hotel in Midtown. We prowled the streets. We even found ourselves wrapped in the fat, tumbling flakes of a snow storm. From there, I described bedecked store windows, the sparkling tree at Rockefeller Center, the hustle and bustle of city life—all of which were captured through the lens of personal experience. For my London Christmas stories, I returned to the cobbled streets and historic venues of that vibrant, timeless city. I visited London as freshly graduated high school senior and twice more once I was married. My love for both locations became the heartbeat of each novel.

My latest immersion is into my sister-in-law's farm in Indiana. I've visited them thousands of times, of course. They're family. However, setting a story there helped me experience their life's work through fresh eyes. As some of you know, I'm in the process of writing The Fishermen of Antioch series for Pelican Book Group. This trio of novels will center on a family-owned soybean farm. John and Mary own and operate a soybean farm and during a recent visit, I not only called upon their vast knowledge of the planting and harvesting process, I could also walk the fields, photograph the crops, peel open a pod and pop a few crisp, meaty beans into my mouth. I hope that kind of realism translates into the circumstances my characters face, their lives and settings.

Do you write what you know? If not, no worries – I recently completed and submitted a story set on a fictional, Mediterranean island. Trust me, there’s been no real-life visit—only the wistful call of my heart. Immersion is one of a hundred ways to write an engaging story, yet as I revisit my WIP and crank toward deadline, I wanted to share this idea/perspective and pose the question: Do you write what you know? What research methods do you like best? What techniques help you ‘keep it real’? I can’t wait to hear, and learn from you!



Christmas at Tiffany's
All she wants for Christmas is her Master’s Degree. All he wants is a one-way plane ticket back to Los Angeles. 

Tiffany Zelling’s mission is to become a crisis therapy counselor using specially trained animals as comfort tools. She's focused on reaching the end of her school career, and nothing will stand in her way—not even a fantasy-world attraction to colleague Mitch Alexander. 

After a year as interim Director of East Coast Operations Mitch's tenure has been a resounding success. Now, he’s set to return to California and lay claim to a well-deserved promotion. He can’t wait to leave behind the cold and snowy darkness of Manhattan, but when corporate bullying and a massive snowfall throws him together with Tiffany Zelling, Mitch wonders if heading west is his best future. 

As two hearts build a pathway to love, goals shift and evolve. But as Christmas joy and hope move through the streets of New York, critical decisions must be made. Can their lives truly meld? Can Christmas at Tiffany’s be God’s answer…for them both?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Devotion, earned the Bookseller’s Best Award as well as the Heart of Excellence Award. Hearts Communion earned a win for Best Romance from the Christian Small Publisher's Association. Finding Home won the Selah award for Best Novella. Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan and an active member of Romance Writers of America, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President.

1 comment:

  1. Generally I do, but there are times I would have loved to visit the locale of a story. It's not always possible. For those times I use my imagination and research. Great article, Marianne!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!