All writers know the importance of accurate research and it is even more vital if you are, for example, setting your novel on a Pirate ship or hanging in space heading for Planet Zob. Rarely can you find out such information from your fellow writers or friends (you really hang out with the cool gang, if you can.)
Luckily the Internet has arrived in time for us budding writers to save wasting our lives poring over documents like they did in The Olden Days or waiting for a book ordered from the library to arrive, by which time we’ve probably forgotten why we wanted it.
The Internet is a magical tool that has transformed the way we research at the flick of a wrist. Who knew that Eng Bunker, one of the first surviving Siamese twins, died from shock at seeing his co-joined twin dead beside him? I didn’t, but I do now. Can I do anything with this information? Hmm, possibly store it for future reference, but probably not. Still, I enjoyed reading the article.
What about the household phrase ‘Jumbo sized’ derived from a circus elephant named ‘Jumbo.’ Incidentally Jumbo the Elephant was killed by a train, his torso was stuffed and he continued with the circus tour in absentia as it were? Don’t really know where I could go with that one, but I do know that another fifteen minutes of my writing time has passed me by, when all I really wanted to know was what the inside of a fairground caravan looked like.
I suppose research was ever thus, but the trouble with the Internet is
it’s sooo distracting. And I’m not talking about that summer dress you’re bidding on (don’t bother, it won’t fit you and you’ll end up putting it back on eBay) or the pinging of another email arriving that you just can’t resist peeking at, even though it’s likely to be an offer from a Nigerian Gent to part with all of your money in return for -well, nothing!
The world we live in is so interesting, and now it’s all on Google. You could spend he rest of your life just ‘Wikipedia-ing’ things, but it won’t get your book written.
So, turn off the Internet as you sit down to write and make a note of information you need to look up later. You can then do it on your mobile device, (of course you have one, you’re a writer) while stirring the gravy for dinner as you watch the tenth re-run of Come Dine with Me – the sort of multi-tasking anyone can do.
But always double-check your research, as the truth I out there, but the bit you read might not be it. (What, you really believed all that stuff about Jumbo the Elephant?)
PS: Google also says there is no proof that little green men exist, so ‘Hah’ to that. I’ve been to planet Zob and seen ‘em with my own eyes. Truth, honest!