Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain for May is on a topic I know well about: research into writing. As a steampunk writer, I have to delve into research for my alternate universe – but that’s only the tip of it.
“What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?”
I’m a very physical researcher. I like to try out my ideas. It probably won’t get to the point where I need to punch someone to get the feel of it, but you see what I mean.
I once almost jumped from my bedroom window to our garden wall to calculate success rates – but then I realised that my house is bigger than Agnetha’s. I then went outside with a meter-rule. I’m a visual reader and writer. I need to see to understand.
Sometimes people give me strange looks due to my requests. A lot of the time, my ‘research’ is focused on interaction and gaze, the certain ways people might turn their hands in movement.
In fact, the most recent was literally two weeks ago when I asked a friend if she would lie on the floor and twist until she could read a clock I had drawn on the whiteboard. All that for one line of the first draft of WTCB’s sequel…
So, that’s the character and person watching done. I’m probably on the less strange scale of Googling – most of what I research would probably not worry the majority of people. Sure, you’ll see “the effects of cyanide” and “six-shooter pistol” on my Google history, but those are alongside the typical “flowers with thorns”, “diamond shapes and cuts”. (For the latter, I also took pictures of the diamond museum I went to in Belgium 🙂 )
And certainly the most macabre of my Google searches was something along the lines of “how long does it take a body to decompose – in water? – in quicklime mortar?” A few days if exposed to large amounts of bacteria, and, indefinitely due to lack of exposure to air, respectively, I’ll have you know.
As much as I do enjoy researching the mysteries of death and – sadism aside – the biological acts of pain, I have a greater interest: that of fictional science. In an alternate universe of the steampunk kind, I have to think long and hard about my science. That’s writing time-travel for you.
I have spent much time reading the Wikipedia pages of, for instance, “aluminium-air batteries” (one I have personally bookmarked to understand how chemical energy works inside electric torches). I studied Physics last year, but that was not enough to fulfil my curiosities brought up by understanding the workings of the forces and, more importantly, quantum particle workings. But these particular little twists of knowledge cannot certainly be ignored in a world where I must have not electricity.
My problems must be better solved by research.
Time, as an entity, is much harder to research. On the other hand, this gives me so much freedom in my explorations. Worm-Hole Theory recently made an appearance, but the good thing is that I don’t necessarily have to correspond to its ideas exactly.
That’s the joy of research: it allows, but does not restrain.
And then there are the pictures: research is not limited to the facts; I have seen the best of inspiration for cogs and clockwork in my image researching. Which I do frequently, I might add.
There are so many more things that I love that I have included in my stories; by that, I mean that the research came first, the stories second. It doesn’t help that I have had dreams of being a character in the 1930s.
To be honest, I have done a lot of research about the 1930s, even in just my viewing habits. I think I could probably tell you enough about 30’s fashion and dress simply from what I have gleaned from, say, Poirot. Of course, Poirot is not the only 1930’s show I have watched/read, but it ranks as the most. Other questions boiled in my mind have been about the theatre in the 30s – A Game of Murder is not called that for nothing.
Knowledge is power: intellectus potentia est. Well, it’s specific terminology, in any case. With an interest in acting in general, it’s quite powerful for me to understand what they used to do with makeup and fake blood, for instance!
Well, that’s what I think. I could go on and on, but really – learning new snippets of knowledge delights me!
The rest of the May chain:
12th – https://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/ [you are here]
19th – http://www.mandilynn.com/
30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)