writers / writing

#IWSG November–Strange Googlable Topics

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question –  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

I routinely Google stuff like “What does the Hudson River smell like?” or “What’s a wolf den smell like?” You can’t get that stuff from a video or text but it adds wonderful sensory detail readers love. I don’t always find people who’ve posted about a topic but it works often enough, I keep trying.

My current WIP, Against All Odds, didn’t work out as originally drafted. In fact, my characters left the geographic location I thought would be their home and traveled over the Pyrenees, around glaciers, and across a land bridge to reach a new location I knew nothing about: Britain 850,000 years ago. There isn’t a lot written about the human occupation of Britain 850,000 years ago (historians only recently realized there were people there at that time) so–while not a strange topic, it was a strange deviation from my expectations!

How about you?

More IWSG articles:

Do Writers Read?

A Great Place to Write

Does Your Writing Surprise You?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

86 thoughts on “#IWSG November–Strange Googlable Topics

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  4. Apologies, Jaqui for this late visit – I see I’ve still got your September IWSG post to read too. Emails are burying me faster than I can read them. Your ‘smell research’ has got me wondering about a related rabbit hole. Does a sea breeze smell different between places? In what way?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet it does. I confess, it took me a while to come up with what the Hudson smells like. I wished I knew someone over there who could just go and get a sniff. Often, I got clues from forums where people talk about just about anything.

      A sea breeze: This is from a forum: The ocean here really does smell of brine, salt, seaweed (especially eelgrass right now) and marine life. At low tide, I can smell the ocean from a few miles away, although then it predominately smells of seaweed, mucky sand, and perhaps stranded shellfish (oysters, clams and mussels mostly).

      Not quite the breeze but close. And then there’s the taste…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jacqui, I’m having issues with some WP sites with leaving comments. I just left one so I don’t know what happened to it. You might want to check in your Spam folder but I will try using my Twitter sign-in this time since I had success at another blog with it. Anywho, this is what my original comment said…

    The Internet is a wonderful resource and I use Google every day for something. Your strange questions to ask Google made me think of when DH was having dental issues. I had forgotten about asking Google what causes old people’s breath? I know that’s a horrible way to describe it but in short, it had to do with infection and the tooth (old root canal failed) that needed pulling was infected. You can learn a lot on the Internet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found it! and 1600 more. Yikes. It’s easy to find the spam–it’s the monster comments. Who does that–such a waste of time!

      ‘old people breath’–how funny. As I become older, I’ve started worrying about the ‘old people smell’ in homes. Hmm.. Thanks for visiting.


  6. The strangest thing I’ve ever Googled? I once spent about 40 minutes searching the history of couches so I could describe an early-20th-century couch in my time travel romance. The result? One sentence… that I cut in the next revision. *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Google has a wealth of info but I always check a couple of sources and I’m sure you do, too! I’m feeling like an insecure writer these days as I attempt to finish my fitness book, Jacqui. I’m getting close but I’m looking for a local editor (to Sacramento area) and someone to help with self-publishing (Mobi files, paperback format, etc). I wish I lived near you to have coffee and pick your experienced brain!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how google has made it so simple to find out stuff where once we had to go to a library and look things up. Got to say, I still enjoy that, but most of all I like to have an excuse to visit places where I set my books – currently Paris.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jacqui, I’m not at all surprised by your unusual google searches! 😀 I was thinking the other day of how addicted I’ve become to google … and I’m not ashamed in the least! 😀 It’s not even nine in the morning and already been out there looking up stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Last thing I Googled was “What are the benefits of poetry for writers and readers?” Found some great stuff hear and will be using in author talks and blog post. When working on My Maine, I had lots of Googling to do and learned so much about The Pine Tree State that I’ll have confidence to address groups and give them some interesting tidbits about our state that they probably didn’t know. Google is a fantastic research tool. I use it for just about anything I write. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m reading A bit About Britain’s History by Mike Biles. He goes a ways back in GB’s history. He mentions humanoid presence in that part of the world who left footprints in tidal muds at Happishburgh, Norfolk.

    I love it when stories take the bit in their mouths and charge ahead, leaving the author to figure out what to do next. I just wish mine didn’t do it so frequently. Good luck with your research and the completion of your next book.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Googling can be addictive, so I know we writers need to be careful to not overdo. But with my current WIP (Lovely as a Lie, undercover DEA agent in a high school) I’ve had to google addiction, opiates, drugs in schools, etc. The articles I’ve read are depressing. When I wrote THE RIGHT WRONG MAN we were afraid we’d get a knock on the door since I was googling subjects like “drug trafficking” and “how to make methamphetamine. ;-0.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Researching smells is such a great idea! Using all of the senses really adds layers to the narrative. As a child, the drive to my paternal grandmother’s house passed a tomato processing plant. Let me tell you, my sister and I still talk about that smell today. Plus, the searches of geographical scent would be a nice break from the mundane “how to commit murder and dispose of bodies without bothering anybody” queries that otherwise populate my searches.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That’s a great idea to google about smells of different places. It must have been challenging writing about location where little is written about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. All I know about ancient Britain is that the Caledonian forest existed — though I don’t know about the Age you are writing about 😉 It’s so much fun when stories grow organically!

    Ronel visiting on IWSG day Year in Review

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sensory details is a really good point! I didn’t think of that, but you’re right. Sometimes you just have to know what a wolf den smells like for authenticity (and general interest). Definetly googled things along those lines myself.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’ve googled many strange things, too. What poisons you can use to kill or the sound of different guns. I hope no one ever checks my browsing history…lol.

    Liked by 2 people

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