speculative visionscience fiction and fantasy

Research

The place to talk about the craft of writing.

Moderators: Bmat, Qray

    Bookmark and Share
 

Research

Postby nightlock » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:04 am

I've begun doing research for a real serious attempt at writing a drama novel. It is the story (in part) of someone traveling around the USA. I already have the Lonely Planet travel guide and a 1000 places to see before you die books to help me plot the journey itself, which is going well.

But, for reasons and plot-twists I won't spoil here the main narrative character hails from North Dakota and it's hard for a European to boil down a typical North Dakotan. What is the culture there? Friendly farmers, or busy urbanites? And their religion? Bible-pounding Catholics, or pragmatic protestants? What does a North Dakotan accent sound like?
Etc.

(Egad, I just realised I have to get rid of my British spelling habits for this book.... Woe is me.)
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 

 

Re: Research

Postby Asp Zelazny » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:28 pm

Not being a North Dakotan, all I can supply you with is some stereotypes, and a bit of personal experience.

North Dakota is particularly known for having vast reaches of nothingness. Miles after miles of soybeans and/or corn. Population density is very low, to the point where for some time, the interstate expressways didn't bother to provide speed limits (last time I was through there, they had been set to 80 mph) .... and it still seems to take forever to get across the state. People in general are friendly but reserved; religion is not necessarily a prominent portion of active characteristic life, but is mostly Protestant but not much evangelicalism. (BTW: Catholics don't thump Bibles, in fact, back when I was one, Bible reading was not encouraged at all). For a good reading of the accent (a maybe a bit of the culture) see "Fargo" -- a Coen Brothers movie set in North Dakota.

Bottom line: the sky is vast, the land is mostly flat and farmland; winters are very harsh and cold. Population overall is small, and urban centers are less-than-cutting-edge. Mostly, hipsters need not apply.
User avatar
Asp Zelazny
True Visionary
True Visionary
 
Posts: 1919
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:17 pm
Location: Arizona
 

 

Re: Research

Postby nightlock » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:12 pm

I would have replied sooner, had I not fallen victim to a stomach flu...

Friendly yet reserved casual protestants living on flat farmlands with cold winters, sounds almost Dutch. Thank you for the info, it means that at the very least, I was thinking in the right direction and can continue with the research I already started.
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 

 

Re: Research

Postby The Master » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:28 pm

That area of the country was heavily settled by Germans. Stats show North Dakota with 47%+ German ancestry. There is also a significant Norwegian and Icelandic population (another 30% of the population). North Dakota is famous for Norsk Høstfest, the largest Scandinavian festival in the US. It would not be out of place for your character to encounter Lutefisk on a menu.

That heavy accent you hear in the Fargo movie is actually pretty common.

North Dakota has been experiencing an "oil rush" boom in the western part of the state around the Bakken formation shale-oil fields. This area may make a good setting for your writing (perhaps your character is looking for work?) and there is quite a bit about it on the internet.

North Dakota has the most churches per capita of any state and the highest percentage of church-going population of any state, so yes religion is a very big deal. The important thing is that it is primarily traditional organized religion (mostly Lutheran and Catholic) , not the "mega church" evangelical type. Think "devout" not "bible thumping".
User avatar
The Master
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1988
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:55 pm
Location: California
Blog: View Blog (2)
Art: View My Art Gallery
 

 

Re: Research

Postby nightlock » Wed May 01, 2013 1:04 am

ND is mostly just the home state, which the MC will leave in the first few pages of the book and unlikely to see again. The reason for deep research on the state is mostly to get the character right and to have her have the right speech patterns, jah? I'll be listening to Fargo a lot for that but so far I did recognise a bit of Canadian and Scandinavian influence in their speech. Specifically the 'jah'-ing they do.

Religion is going to be a *****. From books, movies, TV, and music it's clear that religion in the states is vastly more important than I am comfortable with. It's such an easy topic to offend with and I want to do it justice, though lack the insight of growing up religiously.

This will be the first, and last Real World story I''ll write.
Image

Read New Awakenings

"This is here." :smt104
User avatar
nightlock
Site Regular
Site Regular
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Netherlands
Blog: View Blog (3)
 


Return to General Writing Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest