Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Another question for you writers out there! How do you do your research?

I know for the historical novelist this is going to be a much different kettle of fish than for us contemporary writers. I can't even imagine all the work that must go into historicals. From clothing to homes to speech to customs. It's daunting!!

For me I use a lot of Google. Thank God for Google! I can use it to see the interiors of private planes, take virtual tours of resorts and private islands and million dollar homes in Aspen. Oh, and Google Earth. I rely on it to kind of give me a sense of direction when I'm writing about places I've never been.

Then there's people watching.

I used to go to Starbucks to write, much more often than I do now, and I would always spend a good portion of my time listening (yeah, okay, eavesdropping) to people's conversations.

I heard a love story about a couple who met once in Australia and then again, by chance, or not, in Oregon. I listened to people meet each other, talk for hours, exchange phone numbers and make plans to meet again. I got to overhear a job interview for an exotic dancer position at a strip club. People are fascinating. There is a lot of good information to be gleaned from just listening to people talk.

Though I've never used direct snippets from these overheard conversations (because I've never had an exotic dancer in on of my MSs ;-) I feel like I've taken my observations about these people that are so different from me, and that I've been able to use it to help me with character development in my various MSs.

So, fellow writers, what are your research tricks?



  1. Hey Maisey!

    Excellent choice of topic. Now, as you know, me and research aren't the best of buddies. Don't get me wrong, I love to google as much as the next person. But having little or no discipline makes googling difficult. I've googled one thing to be led to another and before I know it, writing time is out and I've not written a single word. Great researcher or what? But I do like to eavesdrop too, it's so much more interesting than reading papers and watching tv. I'll try my best to stay close to interesting people when out and about but far enough that they don't feel stalked. And I also take shortcuts by reading other people's blogs and reading up on their research!!

    I miss you guys, I've even tried to upload my email account on the older (and much slower) connection but nada. What is it about Gmail and me? Andrew can't access his either because I figured I could use his account until mine was sorted. Fingers crossed it works out soon because it's killing me to wonder what I'm missing out on with the sisters.

    Take care,

  2. Awww...I wish I could help you!! We miss you too. :-( Can you access the group page?

    Uh...I'm the queen of the rabbit trail of research. I go on wikipedia to look up how mayonnaise is made and end up reading about the history of mayo and how they have sweetened mayo in Aus, then about Subway's marketing methods in see how it goes.

    Or I get hung up on a stupid deatail. I wanted to see a copy of a marriage license application for Massachusetts and I found one for just about every state but MA and I wasted tons of time on that. I almost changed the state my characters were in over it. :-P

  3. Yep, Google all the way for me. I'd love to do more travelling for 'research purposes' but sadly no one will pay for me to do so. ;-)

  4. We need wealthy benefactors! I can't write about places I'm familiar with because I write HP and I live in the country and HP ain't country. :-)So Google is a crutch of mine. I use google translate a lot too...

  5. Aideen-

    Jilly misses you. She didn't want to start surfing the net and get lost so she sent me to tell you. :-)

    She's polishing up her chapter for us to read!