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View Full Version : Research: When to buy and when to google



unruley700
12-22-2010, 11:11 AM
As a fantasy writer, I never thought I would really have to pass too much further than google to find any questions that I might have. But I started a project that feels like I need to have more knowledge than just what wikipedia has to offer.

however, the subject matter I'm looking into is only going to be a secondary arc in a novel in the series.

So when is it ok to stick with internet research and when should I dive into every book and resource that I can find on a particular subject?

I feel like I'm asking a stupid question for some reason. You ever get that feeling? ...Like right before I was about to hit submit I had a second thought. Whatever.

hillaryjacques
12-22-2010, 11:31 AM
If you're trying to create a rich world based on actual science, architecture or mythology, you're going to want as much reliable information as you can get. If you can get that online, then more power to you, but remember that wikipedia and individual sites aren't always verified.

Do what you did as a kid and check your local library. Browse a bookstore. You don't have to throw down chunks of cash. Be selective. Find the key texts that will help you and buy those. Google Books is rumored to have hundreds of thousands of e-books available from the public domain. Maybe see if what you need is there.

Miriel
12-22-2010, 07:41 PM
If you live in a place with a good library, take advantage of it (I've lived in a small town where the library had almost nothing; if this is the case, I'm very sorry).

And I ditto the Google books. I'm reading one right now -- very old book, in the public domain, downloaded the whole thing.

There's a research forum somewhere; you could post what you're looking for and people could give you ideas of where to look.

I always figure that there's going to be an expert in whatever field, sometime, read my book. I want it to pass under their radar, and at the same time ring true, authentic, and interesting to everyone else. So, I'm a huge fan of research.

lbender
12-22-2010, 08:25 PM
I agree. Depends on how far out the fantasy is. We use our local library all the time. Shouldn't be too tough to find a well-stocked one. If you need specialized info, there may be university libraries near you.

Whistle_White
12-24-2010, 06:36 AM
I would go with Google/Wiki when the data you need is small or just a number. Say you need to figure out how many miles can soldiers march without dropping dead - you can probably find that online, either through Google or through Yahoo!Answers. In fact, you will probably find *plenty* of answers, each with different reasons, which makes it even more interesting.

But if you need to know the usual layout for a middle-sized abbey in the Gothic style... then it's time to hit the books. You can find info like that online, but it's often well-hidden and not my definition of trustworthy.

But unless you write a lot of medieval fantasy, you're not going to use a book on 13th Century Religious Architecture a whole lot. So it's not exactly worth buying - that's when you visit your library, check the book out and then photocopy/scan the bits you'll really, really need.

I know in some countries it's illegal to photocopy books (mine... nobody really knows), but I figure that if you only keep the few pages you will truly use, nobody gets hurt. Either that or make a lot of notes on your Serious Book Writing Diary.

MaryMumsy
12-24-2010, 06:47 AM
And if you find books that might be of use, but they are not in your bookstore or local library, there is this cool thing called Inter-library loan. I haven't used it in a couple of years, but it was free and I had books shipped to my library from TX and NM. I think virtually all municipal library systems are on it.

MM

unruley700
12-24-2010, 08:04 AM
I would go with Google/Wiki when the data you need is small or just a number. Say you need to figure out how many miles can soldiers march without dropping dead - you can probably find that online, either through Google or through Yahoo!Answers. In fact, you will probably find *plenty* of answers, each with different reasons, which makes it even more interesting.

But if you need to know the usual layout for a middle-sized abbey in the Gothic style... then it's time to hit the books. You can find info like that online, but it's often well-hidden and not my definition of trustworthy.

But unless you write a lot of medieval fantasy, you're not going to use a book on 13th Century Religious Architecture a whole lot. So it's not exactly worth buying - that's when you visit your library, check the book out and then photocopy/scan the bits you'll really, really need.

I know in some countries it's illegal to photocopy books (mine... nobody really knows), but I figure that if you only keep the few pages you will truly use, nobody gets hurt. Either that or make a lot of notes on your Serious Book Writing Diary.

Exactly the answer I was looking for. Thanks a lot, everyone. 'prec