research

Three Reasons Why I love Research

story line

It’s about the puzzle–image credit: PublicDomainPictures

Isn’t that a critical part of being a writer? Research:

  • answers questions. You’re chatting with friends about global warming. You-all wonder–how much hotter is it today than it used to be. You jump on Google and find out–the Global surface temperature increased 0.74 degrees in the last hundred years. You read a bit further and find out it’s cooler today than two million years ago. We’re in an ice age. that’s confusing. You either keep reading or put it on your ‘todo’ list for later.
  • gives you ‘insider knowledge’ about whatever you choose. when you’re visiting DisneyWorld and the everglades, it’s always good to know that crocodiles have been around for over 200 million years. that means they aren’t likely to become extinct before your trip is over. You think about it and decide they do fit their environment pretty well, even if that ‘environment’ is disappearing.
  • Puts you in the driver’s seat–you know stuff no one else does. Everyone has a friend whose debate technique is only one fact deep. When you throw those pesky facts at them, they don’t know what to do. (They either insult your lineage or making excuses.)

Here’s what I was researching three years ago. Here’s what I’m researching for my new book:

  • submarines
  • Islam
  • cloaking devices–I’m concentrating on ‘metamaterials’
  • changes in education

How about you? What’s snagged your cerebral attention?


Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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11 thoughts on “Three Reasons Why I love Research

      • I’m going to publish a post on it someday soon; I may first check it by the ladies I met who do bobbin lace. I’ll try to remember to tell you when it’s up. Basically it’s very fine lace made out of thread, and each piece of thread is wound around one bobbin. The bobbins are moved around to create the pattern. It’s amazing! Think of old Victorian lace collars and handkerchief edgings.

      • I have seen those, just didn’t know that’s how they were made. Amazing.

        I’m subscribed to you, so no worries–I’ll see the post when it comes up.

  1. For current WIP, I mostly did it the other way around, researching whatever caught my attention –entomology, prairie ecology, theories on parenting, a musical group from the 1850s, a couple elements of ancient Egyptian history — and letting it percolate into my writing.
    Next one might be different, though. Idea too big for current understanding of how things work, will have to do a lot of work to pull it all together.

    • I did a plot and several subplots that way–researching a favorite topic and finding it filtering into the story. I love that. But, I can’t always control where my characters go so I’ve discovered some fascinating information through them.

  2. I did lots of research for Inlaid Table, maybe a dozen books and countless on-line reading, and found I’d known much less than I’d expected about an historical period I sometimes teach. Read about the history of Poland, structure of Yiddish, history and daily life of a shtetl, spoke with a priest who had Polish background, and read many interviews of survivors. Experienced a moment of serendipity when the Getty had a detailed exhibit on marquetry, and few weeks later watched a man who demonstrated how it was done. For Tree House, I was fortunate to be able to interview someone who lived within the fire zone and had saved the newspapers that reported the event. Also looked up lots of info about psychological disorders and treatments, and a friend gave me vital info about horses. Some stories can’t be written without knowing just the facts, ma’am, and some stories are enhanced by the authenticity lent by a knowledgeable voice. Don’t I sound like an expert?
    WIP – most of it based on personal observation, of which I have amassed a great deal in the past 2 1/2 years. For this one, I don’t want the expert’s knowledge, I want the POV of those in the trenches.

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