Lots of people, including other published author's that I knew, told me how lucky I was to have the internet available to me because when they were researching they had to do everything 'old school'. So, I thought, great! This is going to be fantastic! I'll just be able to type something into a search engine and BAM! No problemo, right?
found out really quickly that you have to be very particular about the
keywords you put into a search engine, because you'd be shocked by some
of the randomness pops up, especially when you're looking for something
I also found out that some historical texts
people have not bothered to put online. I don't know why, but the
information is just not there. And, yes, wikipedia is a good jumping off
point but those books that they list at the bottom as reference are NOT
online! Most of that info isn't even close to being online, and anyone
who tells you different is seriously deluded.
reality of internet research is that all it does is point you in the
right direction. In no way will it give you all the information you
need, and if you want to write books with any kind of history in them
you're going to have to kick it old school and read a book.
books are really...well....wordy? I'm not sure the best way to explain
it except there is a lot of extra information, especially royal
biographies! When you pick up a royal biography, probably 100 pgs out of
a 400 pg book are actually about the person, the rest about the
political climate and other details about what was going on in their
country during their reign. While this is all important, its not so
helpful in building a character.
Kelley Armstrong recommended these
fantastic encyclopedia's about supernatural beings that are amazing when
creating a character - most of these sorts of books have information
from several different cultural references right at your fingertips.
It's as good as the internet, and looks cool on your bookshelf. I
suggest to anyone who's writing something with fantasy creatures (and
I'm talking everything from mermaids to vampires to dragons to banshee's
to morrigan's) to pick up these sorts of books wherever they can find
them. It was one of the best pieces of advice I ever got.
I must say quite loudly to anyone who's starting to research a book, do
not be so naive to think you can find everything on the internet. You
will be disappointed, and I wouldn't want your novel to come to a
screeching halt just because you have to kick it old school. And that's
what writer's do, right? They read. If you don't read, you'll have a
hard time writing a book in general.
So dig out your dusty old
library card, here in Toronto you can order from the library's online
site and get it sent to your local branch, and get digging! And you may
want to make a budget for yourself to buy research materials - the
library is for those that are too pricey to buy, unless you can find
Another major issue that I've seen in
regards to research is that a writer can get so bogged down in it that
they never write a word. In a strange way, you'll always feel like you
don't enough. But, the beautiful thing is that you can simply write it
the way that you see it while you're doing research, you can always go
back and change it, if needed.
that some people walk into a book that involves writing history thinking
its simple, assuming that since they know a little they know everything
, but its very far from it. Then they get so overwhelmed by what they
need to know, sometimes they even give up. And I think that's sad. We
lose a lot of great stories that way.