Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mythbuster Research

Photo by kwc

Have you ever been typing along only to discover you've included some element in your book you have no real knowledge of? No personal experience from which to write?

As a member of ACFW, I see lots of emails come across the main email loop asking research questions for works in progress. The subject matter is truly fascinating, some making me want to read the book just because the author asked what grasshoppers taste like. Some questions are mundane things, like whether Jetta remote entries would be operable after being dropped in a water puddle, or which way water swirls down a toilet in which hemisphere (this one really sparked some interest!). These are the nitty gritty details we have to include for realistic portrayals and accurate scenes, but what we're really doing is playing literary Mythbusters.

Did you ever watch that show? Truly unreal, some of the things these guys do...all in the name of busting myths. And we writers have the same dictum: not to include anything someone would even remotely question.

So I'm building my arsenal of contacts to email for different things, like, for example, legal advice. I have a doctor friend I can contact about medicines, I have my own husband for anything I need to know about military life. I guess you could ask, "How many people does it take to write a book?" And the answer is staggering.

Q4U: How many people are in your writing arsenal? Do you have real-life mythbusters who can set you straight about something in your book? Do you email/call your lifelines?

Wordle: signature


Eileen Astels Watson said...

I've been known to use the ACFW loop lifeline, but hubby is always my first try. It just amazes me how much he knows or who he knows to find out something from for me. He's my own personal mythbuster, and sorry, no, I'm not sharing him. His time is used up to the max just from this writer.

Jill Kemerer said...

You are so tenacious! Can you bottle that and send me some? Ha!

I do most of my research online or at the good old library. However, I do believe picking an expert's brain is the best option.

Jody Hedlund said...

Since I write historicals, I use google books mostly! There are whole books online (especially the old ones I need, like Culpeper's Whole Medicine). And then of course I use the good old library. The interlibrary loan is great too! I can get books from any library in my state. It's fabulous!

But I have thought of contacting some specialists too, maybe to read my book and find any errors I've made. But I haven't gotten up the nerve to do that yet!

Cathy Bryant said...

Just stumbled across your very helpful blog today--thanks to your post at Seekerville. Love your blog!

I use the internet for research, but sometimes it's difficult to know what you can and can't trust. I try to find the same info in at least three places before I use it. My oldest son recently graduated from law school, so I'm constantly calling him up for legal advice!


Jeannie Campbell said...

eileen - i hear ya. i'm always asking my husband stuff.

thanks jill and cathy!

jody - i'm going to check out google books. had no idea.

Jenna said...

Well, if I have a question about anything related to food, I ask my dad. He's a pro chef at the fancy-pants restaurant downtown. For business-related things, I talk to my mom, who knows all about that sort of thing from her years managing a gift shop and doing book keeping at a hospital.
For computers, I go to my uncle, who owns his own computer business. I go to my aunt for anything medical or psychological, because she's a psychologist and used to work in a hospital as a registered nurse.
Um...I don't know who else. Google, a lot of the time, or I'll ask my parents what they know.

Windsong said...

That's awesome you have people you can email. :) I do most of my research on-line or at the library. I'm getting better at branching out though. :D

Katie said...

Hey girl! I hope Maddie is doing better! The loop has been a HUGE weapon in my personal arsenal! I've met some doctors and A LOT of awesome farmers who have helped me with my current WIP. Mary Connealy actually helped me a lot with farming questions!!

Anita said...

I am adding you to my arsenal!

SouthAsiaRocks said...

well, if you ever have questions about India, international travel, Thailand or things like that, I'm here for ya! :)