Imagine we have no computers, no Internet access, no search engines. Yes, imagine it was like the good old days.
And just imagine how much paper we would be wasting using the old method – remember them? Typewriters! Painstakingly typing word after word using our well-practiced, two finger method. And sheet after sheet of perfectly good paper ending up in the writer’s waste bin.
Would the writing revolution ever have happened? Writing is no longer for the privileged few. Yes, even I have taken pen to paper, well, metaphorically speaking. A new found freedom being taken up by an army of hopefuls. Some with astonishing results. The new era – indie publishing. Literally, hundreds of thousands of new novels are published each year. Even this little fact I had looked up on the internet.
And we found a new way helping to protect our cherished rain forest – the e-book. After a slow beginning, (Amazon’s first Kindle appeared in 2007), there has been an explosion of e-books. But was it a ´Chicken or Egg´ situation? Did the e-book appear before the e-reader, surely not? I discovered that the Rocket e-book and Soft-book Reader was launched in 1998. There you have it. This brings me to the next topic, the research.
Try to imagine all of us new writers storming off to our local libraries, that is, if you could still find a local Library.
Every novel needs a certain amount of research. Alright, let us not dwell on the thought of what research was required when writing about a certain gentleman whose surname was Grey. Your novel might be covering a particular time in history or could be set in the present. Whatever, you still need to know everything about the country or the town your characters live in. The type of clothing they would wear, what music they would listen to, even coffee shops, bars, drinks and food. The list is endless.
I often wonder how many hours writers spent searching through books or documents, to find out what they needed to know. I am not saying that the Internet has totally replaced research books. But what a great help it has become. In life, you cannot totally rely just on the Internet and not everything which is listed is actually true. Take Wikipedia for example; it has it uses, but not always the correct information – we better beware. I believe most publishers do not like their writers quoting Wikipedia as a reference.
I still search for books about subjects I am writing about. For example, I wanted to include the ´Ruffles Hotel´ in Singapore in my story. I had the good fortune to have stayed there several times during my working life in the Far East. However, I needed to know more about a specific period in time, and I had to purchase a couple of books to find out what I needed to know. Libraries can no longer afford to carry as much stock as they once did. Even in their reference sections.
One thing I do like about Internet searches is its availability is not restricted to the computer. Tablets and iPhones can accomplish the same task, and the best part is you are no longer chained to your desk. You are now mobile! I sometimes use several devices at one time, one for writing my novel and the others to do the research whilst I am in a given chapter.
What is the best research method for you?
By Elisabeth Marrion
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
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