Monday, October 8, 2012

Research: You Never Know What Might Turn Up

Isn't it amazing to find something you're not even looking for? Research can be like that at times. As a former reference librarian, I enjoy searching for information and finding answers.

But sometimes, authors make unexpected discoveries that actually help them in crafting their stories.  This is especially true for those who write historical fiction!

Maybe you've been trying to determine just the right expression for a 1930's character to use when you hear Johnny Depp say "like nobody's business" in the movie Public Enemies.

Or maybe you want some in depth information on thespians in turn of the century New York, and then you stumble upon just the right book at a flea market--for $2.00!

Perhaps you're trying to envision a dinner party from the 1940's, and when flipping through channels, find an old movie depicting just that. Or while visiting the museum, you see a furniture exhibit that can help you develop a description for a bedroom in 1889.

Could be that writers are more attuned to what's around them when creating their narratives. However, finding something that helps when least expected it, is the most fun and unexpected part of research!

If you're a writer, what have you stumbled upon that helped you develop your story? If you're a reader, what's the most helpful information that you just happened to stumble upon?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Raquel Byrnes said...

You're right about movies helping with inspiration. I find they help me a lot.

mooderino said...

My problem tends to be gettign carried away with research as i go off on interesting tangents.

Moody Writing

Old Kitty said...

I think even a story in a newspaper or a photo in a mag trigger things in my writerly mind!

Take care

Maria McKenzie said...

@Raquel: Hi, Raquel, thanks for visiting:). I love movies for that too!

@Mooderino: I've had the same problem. One thing leads to another, then another, then I've wasted an hour!

@Old Kitty: That's all it takes sometimes! Writers have such active imagination;).

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I've found wonderful details in old newspapers, including some that were unexpected! For example, I was looking through a 1905 Dayton Daily News, and ran across mention of a woman who was in jail for stabbing her husband. What was really great was how sensationalized everything was! Gave me just the details I didn't know I needed for my story!

Maria McKenzie said...

Awesome! I love finding stuff like that;).

William Kendall said...

Even things that might not be useful for the current project can be easily filed away for some future use during research. I've gone through lots of different sources for my own.

One of the most useful online sources I found was a link at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which gave a virtual tour of the area that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. I wrote a sequence based upon going through that virtual tour.