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dirtsider
05-28-2008, 10:15 PM
When I do research online, I tend to get frustrated because there is just so much information out there. A lot of the time, I have a bad case of "I'll know it when I see it" syndrome.

Any suggestions?

Kalyke
05-29-2008, 01:56 AM
Since this is for writing novels, I'll tell how I've done mine. First, I get interested in a subject. I go to the library and get a few books or periodicals on the subject. Then, while reading the books I jot down things that I think would be useful to look up for my novel. Pretend I am writing a novel about a novel about a prison riot in the 1930's. I'd first look up things on crime, the prison system, not only from the view point of the establishment, but also from the viewpoint of the prisoners. What sort of punishment was there for bad behavior and so on? Since good dialog means that you speak oblquely, I need to find other things for the guys to talk about-- baseball is good. The Bible, the law, their families, as we as concerns about guards, trustees, and other things (yeah, I saw the Shawshank Redemption too). Whenever a good article comes up try to see what they refer you to in that. You'd have lots of things to the location, the clothes, the cars, what was important to them. But I still would start at a brick-and mortar library.

I think writers (especially freelance article writers) are compulsive clipping collectors. Any interesting thing will get the response of putting it in a file folder to save it.

Matera the Mad
05-29-2008, 03:29 AM
Search branching--altering sets of keywords slightly to get things from a different angle--does it for me. I find that a search yields a lot of junk but in one item there is a word that gets me a better percentage of potentially useful stuff, and from that I get a new branch.

Hey, novel writers collect gigabytes of junk too :tongue

dirtsider
05-29-2008, 05:10 PM
Oh, I'm definitely a compulsive clipper. Sometimes it's articles, sometimes it's photos/pictures. And I do go to my local bookstore since I generally want to have books on hand to flip through when I'm writing. Thanks.

Oh, and is there a way to filter topics that I don't want to be part of my search? Say I want to look up a myth on "the end of the world" but don't want Revelations or Ragnorak. I can put in something like "Non-Christian" or "Non-Norse" in the search, correct?

lakotagirl
05-29-2008, 05:50 PM
I might have had just a tad too much wine last last. Instead of trying to tell you a lot, I'll just try to give you a few search tips that might help narrow down what you find.


Search engines will find every instance of the words you search for.
You can still use the minus sign to exclude things (I'll give an example below).
Put your most important search word at the beginning of your search term.


Here's an example:
I want to find out about anger management. I type anger management in the search box. Google returns 7,150,000 pages. And - I keep getting pages that talk about the movie with Adam Sandler.

So, I put a space in the search box add a minus sign and type the word movie. Now my search box looks like this:
anger management -movie
Great! Google removes all the pages that talk about the movie. Now I only have 550,000 pages to muddle through.

Let's say that now I am finding a lot of pages that sell classes. I don't want them. I can add another minus sign so that my search now looks like this:
anger management -movie -class
That knocks more pages out of the results.

By using the minus sign, you can get results that are more relevant to what you are looking for.

Using your example above, here is what the search box would look like:
"the end of the world" -Revelations -Ragnorak.

This google page has a lot of good info to help find what you are looking for:
http://www.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=searchguides.html&ctx=basics&hl=en

Good luck!

slcboston
05-29-2008, 05:59 PM
I want to find out about anger management. I type anger management in the search box. Google returns 7,150,000 pages. And - I keep getting pages that talk about the movie with Adam Sandler.

So, I put a space in the search box add a minus sign and type the word movie. [...] Great! Google removes all the pages that talk about the movie. Now I only have 550,000 pages to muddle through.

I think searching requires a bit of winnowing for the process to truly work. Not all topics will require extensive winnowing, but I have only rarely gotten a good hit on my first string of terms.

Also useful sometimes is the little link that says "more results like this one" (or words to that effect) which can also help you narrow things.

The more specific your search, the more likely you are to be successful. It also helps if you can think of more restrictive/specialized parameters for what it is you're working on.

And net searching is only as good as the net itself. Some topics just aren't out there in any depth, and so your next best place to search would be the library. :D

FinbarReilly
05-29-2008, 09:52 PM
Also, start at the some source such as Wikipedia; it has some links that should help you direct your search, as well as provide better keywords for your search. Keep in mind that lurking on discussion boards can also help, especially if the discussion board is keyed to the topic you are researching...

FR

dirtsider
05-29-2008, 10:26 PM
Thanks, folks. I knew about using the "+" sign to add more words but didn't think to use the "-" sign. And yeah, lurking is good. lol I've done that in past on a couple of boards. Half the time it's a case of "I'll know what I want when I see it" deal. That's easy to deal with with books but not so much on the 'net when trying to come up with the initial search starting point.

Smiling Ted
05-31-2008, 08:19 AM
Oh, I'm definitely a compulsive clipper. Sometimes it's articles, sometimes it's photos/pictures. And I do go to my local bookstore since I generally want to have books on hand to flip through when I'm writing. Thanks.

Oh, and is there a way to filter topics that I don't want to be part of my search? Say I want to look up a myth on "the end of the world" but don't want Revelations or Ragnorak. I can put in something like "Non-Christian" or "Non-Norse" in the search, correct?

Not really. Bear in mind that Google will just search for the occurrence of that phrase ("non-Norse")...and it's unlikely that someone writing about, say, the Christian end of the world will bother to specify that it is a "non-Norse" end of the world.

Instead, your best bet is to come up with words or phrases that would occur ONLY in the sources you need. A reverse dictionary can be helpful here, or a thesaurus. For instance, a useful key word for "end of the world" would be "eschatology."