As a writer, we are constantly told to "write what we know". I have a habit of tossing out such advices because if I were to write ONLY what I KNOW, then in the grand scheme of the universe (which is very GRAND indeed), the extent of my knowledge would be smaller than a quark.
And what the heck is Google for anyway?
So. RESEARCH. A writer's semi-bestfriend. Or maybe it's our frenemy, I'm not sure. Anyway, here we are, flushed from the adrenaline of a new sparkling and uber-shiny IDEA, and we let our thumbs and fingers fly on the keyboard...tap, tap, tap. We're practically bouncing off our seats--this is going to be the best book ever! Eat your heart out, JK Rowling--when suddenly. SUDDENLY. We realize we have NO idea how to kill off a manticore-dragon hybrid. Okay, maybe no one does except JK Rowling if we let her.
Let's try that again. So, you're writing, writing, then WHACK! The next scene calls for medical expertise, and though you were very handy with the scalpel and the dead frog in high school, you have no idea what your teenage vampire-werewolf hybrid/superhero should do when his human girlfriend suffers from a heat stroke in the middle of the desert because she tried to follow him even when he said to stay away from him since he's mega-dangerous during the new moon. But oh, she just couldn't. Teen angst and all that jazz, ya know.
So you lug down your dusty medical encyclopedia your mom bought for you as a hint, er, gift back when you were still trying to decide what to do with your life (college applications spread out on table next to you). And the adrenaline plummets down. Next thing you know, you are staring at the white screen, and oh, ice cream sounds really good right now.... Click Save, turn power OFF. Goodbye.
Hey, don't go. I'm not done here. Research may get a bad rep because it stops us cold from our euphoric writing high, but it can be fun too. Medical mumbo-jumbo twisting your brain in knots? Check out Lydia Kang's blog The Word Is My Oyster. This chick is a bona fide doctor and an excellent writer. You can even ask her your own medical questions and she will answer them! Yeah, 'cause she's cool like that.
Writing a psychological thriller? Sarah Fine is a practicing child psychologist and talented writer who blogs at The Strangest Situation. And she's also super awesome because you can ask her your own questions too!
Want to find out about animal behavior? Lisa Ann is your girl--she's a writer, an animal trainer, a zookeeper, an environmental educator. She blogs at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased. Man, I have the coolest friends. ;)
I've said this before (I think) that GOOGLE is my BFF. When in doubt, Google it. Or else you will find yourself at the end of a reader's rant like this one about faulty research. And yes, Michelle Simkins is called Greenwoman for a reason. She knows her herbs and her plants, so if you're venturing into botanical fields in your ms, go check her blog out!
Here are some other golden finds:
Cosmic Log by MSNBC.com Science Editor Alan Boyle. This one is a mishmash of anything cosmic--from science to space and society. Even Mars and dinosaurs. What I like about this blog is that you see all these articles and they can spark your writerly imagination (New species of sea slugs found? Whoa, that's a story right there. Kraken hybrid, anyone?).
Cocktail Party Physics. Yeah, the blog name alone delivers, doesn't it?
Symmetry Breaking. More on Physics but a whole lot serious than the one above. So this is for you nerds out there. I'm not nerdy enough for this blog. (Plus, I hated Physics in high school. Gahhh!)
Mythical Realm for all things mythical such as magical creatures and legends. Yes, this one's a handy resource for Fantasy writers.
Monstrous.com for the not-so-pretty side of Fantasy.
Sacred Texts An archive of religion, mythology, folklore, and the esoteric.
Going prehistoric? DinoDictionary.com
Ghosts, Aliens, and UFOs. Visit Unknown Explorers.
Is there a site or a blog that you go to in times of writerly needs? Please share with us! We'd love to get educated.