Saturday, September 5, 2015

In the name of research

I spent much of my writing time today reading about, and watching videos of, what happens when antacid tablets interact with water, vinegar, or soda. In water bottles. In film canisters. I emailed a photographer friend with questions about the latter. And then I threatened on Twitter to start a list of things I've Googled in the name of research.

I did get some writing done today; the general subject of the scene I started should be apparent. (Teachers and other science-minded folks, any thoughts on how two ten-year-olds might safely make a cool-looking explosion are most welcome.) But, although I do indulge in an #amwriting tweet here and there, starting such a running list might provide a little too much temptation to turn #amwriting to #amprocrastinating.

So instead, I've decided to get it (at least mostly) out of my system here. Here's a sample of things my writing has led me to research. (Which, I should note, is mostly realistic fiction with relatively familiar-to-me settings.)

-Names. Oh, so many names. Often popular names in particular characters' birth years, extrapolated based on the assumption that it will be a few years before the manuscript reaches readers.
-Names I think I've settled on to make sure there's no one out there whose possession of said name might pose a problem. This also goes for towns, schools, camps, and fictional candy brands and social media sites.
-Activities at summer camps. (Apparently, some camps' summers don't culminate in an Israeli folk dance show. What do those campers do all day?)
-Types of paint and their advantages and disadvantages.
-How to use a zip line.
-Treatment of fractured wrists. (No, not directly related to the zip line.)
-Do kids still use alarm clocks?
-How old are kids when they get cell phones?
-How to make a web series. (This one, I Googled in character, trying to limit the search terms to a fifth grader's vocabulary.)
-Tips for filming with a smartphone. (I searched this one as myself; I might need educating, but the techie ten-year-old in question didn't.)
-Various points about hair care across ethnicities.
-Points about my own culture that I'm pretty sure I know, just in case. Yes, I confirmed today, Tums are kosher.
-Typical weather in a particular state at a particular time of year.
-Rules of handball.
-How many Legos in a tub?

This isn't to say the Internet is the only place for research, but since I'd rather not hit my neighbors' cars testing out a film canister rocket, it's a darn good resource. How about you, other writers? What has your writing forced you to learn?

No comments:

Post a Comment