Feb. 22, the Write-Brained Network hosted its February live chat. The topic? Research in Fiction—What’s Your Process?
The gist . . .
We started by discussing the different methods people use when they need to do research. We brainstormed a quick list of ways to do research and came up with reading stuff and interviewing pros or specialists. Nothing too groundbreaking there, no?
Then, we talked about the ways in which we go about incorporating research. Because everyone’s process is different, it was interesting to compare notes. Some Write-Brainiacs need to have their whole plot frame up before they even attempt doing any research. Others begin writing and leave themselves notes in terms of where they need some research beefing (in other words, get the story down and THEN worry about the nitty gritty). Others still can’t move on to the next sentence if they haven’t done their homework.
After that, we talked about where people go to get the necessary info:
- Google. We agreed that with the Internet, there isn’t really much excuse for getting something wrong these days. A good, old-fashioned Internet (or library) search can mean all the difference in a lot of cases, so it’s a good thing that’s pretty accessible to pretty much everyone.
- ProfNet. I hadn’t heard of this one, but it definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out. Through PR Newswire, ProfNet is a free database where one can search for info—or (and this is where I was really sold) ask a specific question that one of their 30,000 professionals will answer. And they’ve got pros in a ton of areas!
- Google Maps. We got into a little discussion about research and setting—i.e., do you have to have visited the place you’re writing about (if it’s not a fictitious world you’ve created). Of course, if you’re looking for concrete details, it’s probably better if you’ve been there or at least talked to someone who has been. However, if you are simply looking for distances of locations, Google Maps is a great tool.
- Lydia Kang’s Medical Mondays. For medical research, I pointed to a blog I follow—The Word is My Oyster—by doctor/writer/blogger Lydia Kang. She has a series she does every where she takes some kind of medical condition and explains it thoroughly for writers looking to incorporate things about it into their work. If she hasn’t already done a Medical Monday on a subject of your choice, you can write in and she’ll answer your questions in a subsequent post. For example, today’s question is: “If someone died and was buried in a shallow grave in New England (about an hour northwest of Boston) for nine years, would only a skeleton and clothing be left behind? Or would hair, skin or anything else be left?” Find out the answer here.
- CSI stuff. We also talked about a few books out there that cops and other investigative types have written—some specifically *for* writers to answer their questions about police procedure where crimes are concerned, etc. For a while, a few of us thought we were talking about the same book only to find out we were talking about a couple of different books, but in the midst of that convo, someone metioned the Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter (which is exactly what it sounds like).
ORGANIZATION OF RESEARCH
After all that, we discussed how (and where) to keep everything straight, and, quite frankly, we talked about Scrivener so much they should be endorsing us. 🙂 But some other Scrivener-esque programs out there were mentions as well—two being Evernote and My Novel.
I haven’t tried any of these, but with the glowing reviews from other Write-Brainiacs, I can’t wait to play around with them soon, as I embark on manuscript #3!
All in all, it was an enjoyable hour (two hours for some of us who stuck around after the allotted time!). I always have a great time chatting live with other WBers.
Want in? Join us March 22 from 9-10 p.m. EST for our next WB Live Chat! Topic: Plotters & Pantsers.