Writerly Research Tips

Once upon a time on a carefree writing spree, you suddenly bash your head against a wall. Ouch. Your protagonist halts. He looks up at you, arms crossed and foot tapping. His lady love is just on the other side of the wall, so hurry up and get him there!

You type into google: ”What were castles made of in 1673 and how hard were they to break into? What tools would a monk and a court jester have at hand?”

I hit a wall a while ago. It was covered with seaweed and a few crabs. My protagonist grabbed onto a piece of coral to keep from floating away. She looked up at me, confused and lost. A few bubbles popped out of her mouth and fled upward.

I asked: “How do oceanic currents and topography affect the movement of water in underground caves? Is there a way to manipulate the water to move along certain paths, at certain speeds? What life exists in such underground passages?” 

Helpful resources to answer these questions:

  • Find a good textbook (I bought an oceanography and a marine biology book. Amazon has cheap textbooks all over the place. Look for older editions with deflated prices.)
  • Field-trips (Husband and I go to the beach every now and then, and every time I notice something new about the way water interacts with the tide-pools, the sand, etc. Every little bit helps.)
  • Ask around (Even though my husband’s undergrad was bio-chem, he has plenty of helpful tips for my watery scenario. I’m sure that someone you know has a secret obsession with ancient architecture.)
  • Watch documentaries (Planet Earth has become a favorite of mine. National Geographic and History Channel will probably have something right up your alley as well.)

I think I’ve got the currents part of my question straightened out. But life in caves? Fish? Seaweed? …blind creepy things? I’m still gathering bits of information. And of course making things up as I go.


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