Unintended Learning 🤔

Unintended Learning 🤔

As a writer, it’s my job to be inside the heads of up to a dozen people at a time. I must think like they think and know what they know. 

The obvious problem with that is I don’t know everything my characters know. Now what?

Research to the rescue!

My current series in progress, Built to Last, takes place in a fictional coastal town in Maine. Being familiar with southern coastal Maine, I know, in general, what kinds of plants there are near the ocean.

Rather than simply have my character notice the beach rose bushes and let them add to the natural beauty of the scenery, they are linked to a special memory for her, which she shares with another character. It was a fun scene to write, but it all hinged on the research I did for beach roses.

I was born not far from the ocean, and I’ve lived within an hour’s drive of it for my entire life. I’ve seen beach roses for as long as my memory stretches back. 

But spending a few minutes reading about these beautiful flowers gave me a whole new appreciation for them and surprised me with a bunch of things I didn’t know.

The biggest shock to me – they aren’t even native plants. They were brought here from Asia to help prevent beach erosion. Some people consider them an invasive species.

The coolest thing I learned is that the rose hip fruit (they look like super small apples) can be harvested in the early autumn and used to make syrup, tea, and jelly. 😋

And there it was... the memory I needed for my FMC. She and her mother used to pick the rose hips and make jelly with them. It was a joyful memory for her, and it added that touch of realism that helps bring a story to life.

Plus, now I know that I can pick them and turn them into jelly! If I ever do, I’ll be sure to put up a follow-up post to this one. 😊

What’s the coolest/most interesting unintended learning you’ve done?

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