Craziest Thing I’ve Done For Research
Acting Out with Dora and Friends
By Christina Freeburn
Otherwise known as the day I had to borrow Dora, Diego, and Boots and other assorted critters from Explorer world to finish writing a scene. I was so happy that my children (teens) were at school so they didn’t see me playing—staging a scene—with the figures. I wasn’t sure they’d believe it was all in the name of research. I was also glad the Princess wasn’t over that day because I’m not sure she’d be happy in sharing her toys with me.
My unusual research method started with a knee injury. Who would've thought that injuring a knee make it hard to write? Wrist, finger, hand and even arm were understandable. Originally, I figured I’d get more writing done as the doctor said I had to keep off my leg as much as possible for it to heal. I love reading and writing. Those were two activities I could do for extended periods of time, and sat while doing so. I was looking forward to all the work I’d get done, and dwindling down my to-read pile.
I never realized how moving around was part of my writing method until I had to be still. I outline a little. I also have quite a bit of seats-of-the-pants moments. And to top it off, I’m a pacer. When I’m stuck on a scene, I wander around and talk them out, then stand at the keyboard and type everything down. It’s an integral part of my process I wasn’t aware of until I couldn’t do it. Even worse, when I’m writing action scenes I can’t “see” what’s happening unless I act it out. Subduing the bad guy. Kicking down a door. Which direction the heroine will push the hero to get him out of harms way.
I can’t write compelling action scenes without moving around. And I couldn’t move. Or at least not as quickly and needed, and having my heroine or hero hobbling through a fight scene wouldn’t have worked well for the story.
I needed to write the scene. Needed to finish the book. I was at the end of the story. I was desperate. I could ignore the doctor’s order, act out the intense scene, and hope I didn’t make the injury worse or find a different method. At the time, the Malice Domestic convention was in two weeks and I had to go. I hate missing it. So, I brainstormed for how I could work out these scenes. I remembered the Princess had Dora, Diego, and Boots and their assortment of critters and vehicles.
There was house. A car. A van. A jeep. Heck, Diego even had a helicopter. My problem was solved. I gathered up the items I needed from Dora world, put them into a tote, then carried them back into my office. After setting the scene properly with all my borrowed research tools, I got to work. Dora and her entourage pulled off the climatic fight scene beautifully. Actually, it was even better than when I acted it out because I could test different version as I could “see” if the characters tumbling down a mountain or if incorporating a car accident added more “pop” to the final scene. I “researched” with the helicopter a little bit but in the end decided that was a little much. Though, the helicopter aiding a hero and heroine might show up in another book.