Hi again. So I hope that exercise went well for you. I hope you enjoyed sharing what you came up with with your fellow learners in the course. Remember, you have one another. If you have a problem or a question, hop on the discussion board and ask it. You have peers all over the world trying to figure out things at the same time as you. The examples from Lorrie Moore and David Foster Wallace should show you how you can make the most ordinary scenes feel vivid and meaningful. You do not have to reach for exotic locales or extreme situations in order to have a sense of setting. Whatever story you write has a setting. "Nothing can happen nowhere. The locale of the happening always colors the happening, and often, to a degree, shapes it." Of course, the time comes in every writer's life where she hits an imaginative wall. She realizes that simply does not know enough about what she's writing about to go on. This happens to me all the time. Recently, I was writing a scene in which a woman is doing the laundry in the 1940s. I can picture her perfectly; well dressed, distracted, twin girls playing outside in the wintry yard, and as she reached down to lug the wet laundry out of the washing machine, what did my imagination supply? A brand new top loading environmentally friendly whirlpool just like the one in my basement. Well, even I knew, I had hit a wrong note. I had to stop and research. What would her washing machine actually look like if she had won at all? Research. We associate the word with scientists and academics, but if you're going to write any extended work of fiction, especially a novel, you are going to have to learn some things you don't know. Today, I want to talk about what it means for a fiction writer to search and research, and how that will help you build your setting, the time, place, and situation in which your story occurs. My belief is that a fiction writer performs three kinds of research. I'm going to call them functional, inspirational, and imaginative research. Functional research includes a range of real-world ways any of us find things out. These days, though we still go to the library, we may also be using a number of databases and Internet sites to locate information. If I need to know a simple fact in my fiction writing; the year a war started, the capital of a foreign country, I do what a lot of us do and check out a site like Wikipedia, taking care to check my facts against other sources. Complicated though my feelings are about technology and how disruptive it can be to a writer's concentration, I do enjoy the efficiency of seeing a photograph of say a flower I want to describe in detail or to study a street map of a part of a city I've forgotten. I keep these trips to cyberspace short. Simple questions often have simple answers. Complex questions often have complex answers. If you want to write a novel, you will likely need to read some works of non-fiction: history, biography, psychology, memoir, to develop expertise on the topics you're touching upon. There's much more to say on this topic. If you're interested, you'd do well to check out a face-to-face course and further study novel writing. My favorite form of functional research is first-hand research. It's not unlike the kind of research a journalists does. This is the research you do live. Any research outside of books or reading texts. It means going to places, walking the streets, sitting quietly, taking photographs, overhearing dialogue, and certainly talking to people. For my third novel, I went to New York's capital city, Albany, for some firsthand research. My protagonist lived in Albany and I needed to see the streets he walked on in order to fully imagine his life. Here's some photographs I took on my trip. I only had one day to spend there. I wandered around, took a lot of photographs, scribbled a lot of notes, ate in a cafe, sat in a park and generally got the vibe of the place. After the novel was published, I had several upstate New York readers complement my knowledge of the area. I must have spent a lot of time there, one of them said, because only someone native to upstate New York would know that the convenience stores are called Stewart's. What I realized was that this reader assumed I was familiar with the area because he found my fiction persuasive in general, and one correct factual detail just sealed the deal for him. Having a flat out, wrong fact or detail in your fiction wakes your reader from the dream, and he wakes up in a bad mood because he feels silly for having believed you in the first place. If you think people don't care whether or not you know the name of the lever that steers a boat, you're wrong. They care. It's called a tiller. So that's functional research. So what do I mean by inspirational research? Well, this is also important. This is research that helps you uncover and discover. Its intuitive, roundabout, and maybe even feels impractical. This is rummaging through your parents attic, listening to music that puts you in a certain mood. This is going to a play, reading poetry. This is reading your favorite book, starting at dusk and finishing at dawn. Inspirational research makes you want to write. It gives you a healthy sense of competition with those who write better than you do. It's good to read books that have already done what you want to do. Inspirational research also opens up your heart and your mind, so that you can see what's really inside there and know what it is you uniquely have to say. Your writing will only be as inspired and as knowledgeable as you are. You have to be in touch with yourself. Are you still with me? The third form of research I call imaginative. This is just the time that you spend knowing and planning your story world. I heard Joyce Carol Oates quoted as saying that she spends 90 percent of her writing time looking out the window, 90 percent. This is a woman who has written over 70 books. So clearly, she's not wasting time. It means she's performing a lot of imaginative research. Imaginative research is simple. Have you stopped to envision the world you're describing? Have you scanned it and know the whole world rather than just a tiny corner? Sometimes I think of imaginative research as writing like a filmmaker, just like a fiction writer, a filmmaker has to build the whole world of a story or in cinematic terms, the diegetic world. The story-world or diegetic world is anything that character's experience or encounter within that world. So for example, a voice-over is non-diegetic because it doesn't occur in the story-world. So let's try an exercise together. This is an exercise in imaginative research. Again, I'm going to ask you to shut your eyes. I'm going to play two different clips of ambient sound. I want you to place yourself within each scene and imaginatively research it. Take a walk through it. Scan the scene. Don't forget to turn around. Turn all the way around. Feel the weather. Supply the details that these sounds suggest. Build the world. Here's the first one. Here you are. Look around. Are you on a flat landscape or a rolling one? What's on the horizon? Miles of nothingness or distant mountains or cities? What about the sky? What time of day of it? Are you alone? They're wind chimes. So there must be a structure of some kind. Picture the structure. Are you sitting or standing? Take a couple steps forward. Don't forget to turn around. Be there. The same quality of sensory immersion is what you're trying to create with your fiction. Good. Here's another one. Are you ready? Close your eyes again. Where are you now? Scan the scene. There are human voices. So where are they in relation to you? What are the children doing? There's a sense of spaciousness but also of traffic. Where is the traffic? Start walking. Imagine any buildings insight, their facades, their height. What's nearby you at your feet? Look down. Grass? Concrete? Look up and turn around. Let yourself see whatever comes up. Good. Hopefully, you felt surrounded by the environment of sound. Well, just as this exercise used one sense, sound, to build a story-world, you will use just one medium, words, to develop the same sense of surroundedness that a reader feels when she reads persuasive fiction.