View Full Version : curious about research..

09-05-2012, 05:03 PM
I was just curious to how much information everyone has in their arsenal of research and information. Providing, of course, they have books on the shelf.

I don't have much room in ways of storage, so everything I find out, I keep on a flashdrive. Getting various books from the library on whatever topic I need. Then I write everything out in Word so I have it for future references.

Just curious to how much information everyone else has.

09-05-2012, 05:13 PM
Research means you have to go look for it - and the answer could be anywhere from inside your own head to floating in the internet, so I'm not sure what your question is, and everything I find out isn't necessarily recorded for posterity.

What exactly is your 'research' question?

09-05-2012, 06:56 PM
I think I fuddled my question. It's not an actual research question. Maybe I should change the heading to "story information". I guess I'm just asking if there are some of us here who have countless, endless books on subjects for their stories. I seen on another post where someone joked with the line, "If the police saw my computer", kind of thing. That's what sparked this question. Just how much information (I call it research) does everyone have on their computer(s)?

09-05-2012, 07:09 PM
I do have a fair number of books on subjects that interest me and which I think might be worth rereading. But I don't keep too many books just to look things up if that's what you mean.

09-05-2012, 07:09 PM
I feel ya stitchingirl. I've been guilty of info-hording in the past. Anything I think might be interesting/useful I either bookmark, save the link/page or copy and paste it to a work document. Tons of pictures. I'm pretty visual so I like a good picture to stimulate my memory/creativity/references/etc. Sometimes it sits for so long it becomes out of date before I use it. Sometimes my bookmarks folder gets to cluttered I have to go back and clean it. It goes back to an old habit from when I only had access to the internet on weekends.

I've gotten a little better at organizing my resources and I have accepted that the internet probably isn't going anywhere. What I think I'll really need, I keep on a couple of flash drives (an extra for a back-up) and if I'm alone in a cabin with no internet, the worst that might happen is I might actually get some writing done!!

09-05-2012, 07:10 PM
When I first started out, I was dumb. I didn't keep any notes, list of resources, etc - figured I'd never need them or I could find them again easily. Neither turned out to be true. Now I keep notes, articles, list of books (and where I found each of them) - anything and everything I've used (even if only for confirmation) while researching anything and everything. Every now and then I do a clean-up - not to get rid of anything but to make sure they're in a folder that makes sense (as I tend to just save them any old whichway during the actual researching).

09-05-2012, 07:23 PM
I know for a fact I'm an info-hoarder. Ooh, that's a good heading. Maybe I'll change this thread to that.

My beta keeps telling me that I'll always research, but won't write if I'm not careful. My husband isn't even sure why I'm researching to begin with. "This is your story. If you use what you find, then it's their story and you lose your voice." I would rather research something ten times than just putting something down that is implausible or blantantly wrong. The characters and plotline are fictional, not the information.

I don't think I'll stop being an info-hoarder. Knowing my luck, I'll get rid of something and then find out I need it. "Crap! I just had that one, too!"

09-05-2012, 09:54 PM
I have books and articles about things that interest me, and those things end up in my books--but you could not really say I acquired them as research,

09-05-2012, 11:15 PM
Most of my research is done online. I have a few books on mental illness, or historic costuming, or oil painting, or whatever, but usually I was already researching those topics for my own use, and they just ended up in my writing. Most of the stuff that I deliberately research for my novels, I find via Wikipedia to begin with, and more specialized websites if I need more than just a broad overview.

That said, I do collect inspirational photos for my novels. I've got pictures of the houses my main characters live in, the ballgown the MC wears in a key scene, actors who resemble a few of my characters, and photos of locations where my novel takes place. If I get bored or stuck on a scene, I can browse through the photos and get a good feel for what I'm writing. Sometimes it'll jog my muse back into gear, or give me an idea for a new scene.

09-05-2012, 11:49 PM
Over the years I've amassed a modest library of pertinent information and relative research materials. I have an admitted fondness for a traditional book in my hands. While internet accessibility hasn't been around for two decades quite yet, I acknowledge that it is a very effective and streamlined research tool. I've found it well advised to corroborate such offered information, as considerable misinformation abounds.

I'm a big fan of libraries. I also prefer to locate and interview persons with first hand knowledge of the relevant topic. The internet is only one tool among many.

09-06-2012, 12:57 AM
I'm an academic in my real-world job, so having shelves and shelves of books I own and books from the library on all sorts of topics is my job. And I love it. I also keep lots and lots and lots of files on my computer. I use Zotero to manage both my academic and my creative writing digital files and internet sources. It's a life-saver. I also keep lots of obsessively cited Word documents of notes I take when starting a new story.

I dream of someday having one of those offices like you see on television that has walls entirely lined with books.

09-06-2012, 02:17 AM
I think I do it the other way around. I ingest information. I grab interesting non-fic books from second hand sales and charity shops, and I read them, and then the info slides into my subconscious. At some point a story solidifies around the information.

Anything else I need I check online - if it's something I also have an interest in I may track down a fairly general book on the subject. For example, I'm looking for an interesting, entertaining factual book about Pirates right now - but there's so many out there.

But for me at least, the information comes first. I have a good amount of non-fic, information books but it's a pretty eclectic collection. 'Gothic Art' next to 'The Natural History of the Unicorn' next to a book about the history of subversive british comic books.

09-06-2012, 06:41 PM
I so would love a library like that, too. Just shelves and shelves of books. Might have to wait till the kids move out on their own. But until then, I'll just keep all my files on my flashdrive.

09-06-2012, 06:47 PM
I so would love a library like that, too. Just shelves and shelves of books. Might have to wait till the kids move out on their own. But until then, I'll just keep all my files on my flashdrive.

In the mean time you could display all your flashdrives on a small shelf!

09-06-2012, 08:23 PM
The only room in my house that does not have books in it is the bathroom. Steam is not good for books. I have a study that has books for current projects and also all - or most - of my Shakespeare collection - which is approx 300 books. Fiction sometimes escapes and comes down stairs. I am a terrible magpie when it comes to books and I know I have to down size.

09-06-2012, 10:46 PM
I have a shelf of writing-related research books, not all of which are physical now (Thanks, Kindle - No need for new bookshelves!). Some are the basic Strunk and White (that one's gotta be thirty years old, at least...) while others are more esoteric and directed at my current/new direction (Forensics for Dummies -- what a cool book!). I also have a few long-out-of-print series of Time/Life books, Mythology, Middle Ages, Witchcraft, etc from prior writing spells. I tend to get those things at garage sales/flea markets/thrift stores and have them hanging around until I need them.

Lately I've been collecting books on writing technique. Some I wouldn't recommend, others I heartily do -- Orson Scott Card, Characters & Viewpoint).

I naturally have a ton of other books, many of which need to be donated to Goodwill. :)

By the way, I used to keep a file cabinet of reference clippings. Stuff I thought might make an interesting article. Now I have the interweb.


09-07-2012, 07:57 AM
I'm a reader and book lover first so I tend to acquire books quicker than I can read them. I've always been interested in weapons and military history and I probably have a few hundred books on those topics alone. These range from popular "photo book" types to serious scholary works to reprints of primary sources.

To give you an idea, when I had to write a grad student level paper on Germany's Economic Policy in WWII I about 2/3 of the books I referenced came from my own library and the remaining third came from the university library. (This was pre-internet, btw)

Today, with the web, I might be a little less likely to acquire a book just on a whim because it might be useful in the future. But, if I KNOW I need to know more in a certain area, I'll definitely invest in at least a few books and not rely on just the web.

09-07-2012, 03:08 PM
In the mean time you could display all your flashdrives on a small shelf!

Thank you for the early morning laugh, despite having a migraine. :D