I hate research! Some writers love it, become so enthralled that they use it as yet another excuse to procrastinate their writing. Not me. I’d much rather sit down and let my imagination run wild with my stories. Nevertheless, a good story almost always needs some research. Even the fantasies I prefer writing.
The web is a fantastic research tool and I’ll happily Google any number of subjects that will flesh out my work and add that special element of grounding to the manuscript. However, most of the time I leave these searches frustrated. They give me lots of great information, but I can’t interact with it. I have questions, so I follow links or other entries to additional information. Nine times out of ten I can never find that exact answer to that exact question about the subject and how it will apply to my story.
Okay, I can accept that I may need to further hone my web research skills, but what I really want is a live person knowledgeable about the matter. Real people can supply the nuances. Real people can reality test how I’m planning to use the information in a scene and whether it makes sense. Real people are much more fun to talk to.
Luckily, real people want to help. Every person I’ve contacted with questions regarding their expertise has been more than willing to assist. Personally, I think they’re tickled. Isn’t it cool to know you’ve assisted someone with writing a novel, especially if a writer’s life is not your own?
And there is always a friend, or a friend of a friend one can find who knows just the right bit to help. My current project involves collecting information about the geography and natural flora and fauna of Colorado. I’ve never visited Colorado. People have been very sweet offering ideas for the setting I’m trying to create.
In the past I’ve asked folks instruct me about karate, magicians, mountain climbing, the urban centers of Canada, the mythology of Buddhism, global warming and polar icecap melt, and so much more.
Some of my helpers are longtime friends. Others are strangers. But no matter what, they enthusiastically offer advice.
I am more than content to rely on the kindness of strangers, or those not so strange to me. Human beings are built to exist in social networks. They need to be interdependent and feel helpful to one another in order to be truly satisfied in life. It’s why asking for assistance is a far from selfish act. With the asking you provide others the opportunity to meet their own needs.
Now, I promise Google Gods that I do not scoff at the fabulous resources you offer. I will continue to rely on information searches on the web. Just recently you helped me out with Greek mythology, parachuting terminology, and the names of major muscle groups on the human body.
But for now, if I can find them, I’ll hunt down the best source of the minute knowledge of our world when I have a question–real live interactive people. Think you have special information I should use in my next story? Contact me. Maybe your expertise will trigger an idea for a manuscript. Stranger things have happened. And stay put by your phones or near your computer screens in case I need to call on you.
Then, look for your names in the acknowledgement sections of my books. You never know.
Thanks ahead of time,