Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Home Again for Scene Research - A Blessing!

Yesterday I traveled north about an hour to my hometown of Lake Geneva, WI for a research trip of a different kind than I'd done. I've been spending a great deal of time there over the past year doing research for my current Work in Progress (WIP), a 1933 novel set in Lake Geneva at the time the Riviera lakefront building was built.

Riviera Ballroom Orchestra Pit
Now that I have the manuscript completed and it is in the tweaking/editing stages I felt something was missing from pivotal scenes. The most important locale I wanted to revisit was the Riviera ballroom on the building's second floor. This ballroom at one time saw the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Louie Armstrong, Wayne King, and many other big bands entertain dancers.

I had been in the room as recently as two years ago for a high school reunion, but back then I had no idea I would be writing a story set there and I was too interested in seeing people and observing how good the ladies looked, while the men ... well, I'll leave it to your imagination!

Yesterday I met the Harbormaster and he let me inside to wander the room. Aside from a woman decorating table stations for a wedding to take place there this weekend and a college-age guy mopping floors, I had the room to myself. The mirror ball was turned on and it spun and spun, flashing tiny lights onto the original tile ceiling like tiny stars. If chairs weren't already set up for wedding guests, I'd have spun around like the dancers of 1933 at the grand opening dance with Wayne King and his orchestra. I refrained, but I could feel the atmosphere all the same.

I also went out onto the open terrace that overlooks the lake, another place a scene between my heroine and hero takes place, and imagined their conversation and where they stood.

View from intersection of Main & Broad Streets toward lake.
Later, my friend who was with me and I walked around town as I got a perspective of what my characters could see and couldn't see. I'd thought the Riviera could be seen from the main intersection, but I was wrong. I walked down the street to the point where the building could be seen and snapped a picture.

Lastly, we went to Flatiron Park where one of the most romantic scenes in my story takes place next to a statue called the Three Sisters or Friends. There, I acted out the scene, taking both roles LOL. My friend cracked up. She probably thought I was nuts, but she was kind. I didn't expect her to understand because she doesn't write stories.

I'm home now and about to go to those scenes and tweak them while the memories of my feelings are fresh.

We're not always able to step right into the actual settings of our stories, and even now, it isn't exactly the same as 2010 Lake Geneva is a whole lot different than 1933 Lake Geneva. Some of the buildings that were there then have been replaced with modern hotels and high rise condos, but my imagination and pictures of the past work well.

When I finish this story, I have a pack of new ideas to plot for other stories in this wonderful town I grew up in. Never have I appreciated it like I do now.

And one thing I learned ... in many ways you can go home again.

If you want to see more pictures of my research day in Lake Geneva go to my FaceBook page.

1 comment:

Linda Glaz said...

Have fun, Pam!