Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Research Weirdnesses

I just ordered a pile of books through interlibrary loan yesterday for the NEW SHINY book I get to work on after I finish revisions. Like most writers, I'm kind of a research nerd--in small doses, at least. I think it's fun to explore new topics, find weird little factoids and whole areas that other people are fiercely devoted to that were completely unknown to me.

So today I thought we could share some of the odder topics we've researched in the course of writing. Here are some of mine, many of which are for books that will never see the light of day or scenes that were cut. I'm glad I learned about them anyway!
  • Late 14th century England. I have PILES of books about different aspects: politics, clothes, food, medicine, roads, words, names, uses of magic...this is one of the biggest sections of my bookshelf.
  • Cathedral building, stonemasonry.
  • Life in a monastery.
  • Politics and art in 15th century Venice. (That one didn't last long--I discovered fast that I wasn't interested enough in it to carry me through a whole book.)
  • Hospitals. MRI machines. Prescription medicines and side effects. IVs and feeding tubes.
  • Ghosts. Ghost-hunting, and all the equipment used for that.
  • Photography.
  • The Kumeyaay tribe, language and culture.
  • Theatre exercises.
  • Romanian gods and goddessses.
Fun, huh? Well, it is to ME! Now it's your turn. What kind of research have you found yourself doing? What weird worlds have you explored?


Loretta Ross said...

Hey! I'm a major ghost and parapsychology geek. Have been since I was a kid. Maybe we could talk sometime.

As for research, I asked a former cop once, "if you find a body that's obviously dead, are you required by law to try to revive it until someone comes along who can legally pronounce it dead?" He said no and then he moved to Arkansas.

And then I asked another cop, "if someone's gotten his you know nailed to the floor with a nail gun, do you read him the Miranda before or after you get him loose?" and he said, "gosh, could be either" and then moved to Utah.

Other research topics, forensics, emergency medicine, firefighting, judicial execution. I'm sure there are a lot more, but I'm running late for work.

Interesting question, though. :)

Beth said...

Knife fighting. Researching techniques led me to some interesting if uncomfortable material, including some websites that made me worry about landing on some FBI list.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Trying to write a scene where characters were skulking around in the forest at night. It just happened we were on our way home from a rodeo in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, driving east through the Columbia Gorge, at around midnight. We stopped at a rest area surrounded by thick forest and I walked out into the trees to see just how dark it was in there. Made it five steps, heard a noise, and ran back to the pickup.

Answer: it's scary dark, that's how dark it is.

Lisa Mantchev said...

LOVE this entry. I love the researching process, and I think my story ideas come fully to life with I'm eyeball deep in old books and new ideas. :)

Susan Adrian said...

Hi Loretta! Haven't seen you for a while! The ghost stuff is fun. I have lots of stories, both mine and other people's. :) And I love how cops run from you!

Beth: I *know* I'm on an FBI list somewhere, so that doesn't worry me so much anymore. *g*

Kari: HA! I sympathize. I planned to go on a nighttime ghost tour of an old frontier prison...but totally freaked out. I was afraid something might follow me home. :)

Lisa: I thought you might relate!

courtney said...

Man, you have researched a variety of intriguing things!! ALL of my research stories... aren't really even research stories. And they aren't cool. :( I just think back and remember how... strongly I felt about high school. And then I am usually angry enough to write. ;)

Deniz Bevan said...

Thanks Susan! I'm going to reply on my blog :-)

Sara said...

Hi Susan, long time no see!

Some things I researched:

* Metallurgy and related things. How to extract iron without mining, for example.
* The tree line and what grows above it.
* Ecosystems in general.
* Making tea without tea leaves.
* Diet and cuisine without milk or agriculture.
* Water irrigation systems.
* Weather patterns.
* Traditional cloth-making and its market value.
* Tanning
* Trade routes.
* Alternatives to the water closet.
* All things horse-y.

/Sara E.

emilyhainsworth said...

LOVE this topic!

Things I've researched for current manuscript:

-Different types of fire extinguishers/how they operate
-Neurotransmission/synapse function
-Power boat laws/etiquette

I agree, sometimes the research is the very best part of writing!!

pseudosu said...

Cool post. Let's see.
-paranormal stuff esp. ghosts
-paramedic response procedures
-rock and roll lifestyles
-urban exploring
-surviving in the woods

Julie said...

Well, let's see...

- archaeology (have a degree in it, actually)
- pioneer prairie life
- Manitoba history
- pet (cat, dog, horse) ownership (not so much research, but actual experience)
- farm life (also experience)
- urban renewal/redevelopment

Susan Adrian said...

Courtney: HA! Real-life experience works too. I get to draw on that MUCH more for the contemporaries.

Deniz: Cool!

Sara: Hi! *waving to Sweden* Now YOU have got the research going on. I've got nothing that extensive!

Emily: synapse function, eh? We might need to talk about that during sparkly BASEBALL.

Pseudosu: And we also need to have a long convo about ghosts and such sometime! YES!

Jule: The farm life one you didn't have to research TOO much. :) V. nice!