Speculative Research Methods

In top questions I’m asked as an author, how I research is way up there on the list. And one of the best things about Spec Fiction in my opinion is just this. The subject of research.

Of course my top answer is the Internet. It is a vast fountain of information which would bust at the seams if people weren’t expanding on the infrastructure every day. Love the Internet. My search engine of choice? Google. And could Wikipedia be any more awesome?

tarot_writersIn honor of our Friday the 13th contest, I’ll bring up the subject of Tarot Cards and really all things fortune telling for that matter. I recently bought Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner at the bookstore. I love the Tarot. Or how about the Ouija board. Or even fortune cookies. After all, when is the last time you got a bad fortune in a cookie?

Museums and tourism in general rank high on fun research methods. Is there anything that can’t be found at a museum? In recent years past, I’m seen mummies, King Tut, and a giant heart. I’ve been to The George Washington Masonic Temple, Mount Vernon, the US Mint, and Fort Washington. I’ve been up the Washington Monument and down into a coal mine. If you live near good museums, take advantage.

dscn2036I take my camera everywhere, and if something strikes me as unusual, fun, or possibly good speculative book fodder, I take a picture. I take pictures in bathrooms, of menus, and of food arrangements. I’ve refrained from taking pictures of actual human beings. Does anyone take pictures of others unknown for research? Do you feel invasive?

There are ideas at the zoo, the subway, and Chinatown. Maps, artwork, and knick-knacks. I love them all. And I’m always looking.

So I’d love to know. What are your best, most favorite research methods?


PJ Hoover would love to visit the lost continents of Atlantis and Lemuria under the oceans.

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5 responses to “Speculative Research Methods

  1. Wikipedia *could* be more awesome, actually, if it was more accurate. I’ve found lots of misinformation there. It’s a good place to start, but not a place to finish.

    My favorite research is an activity that prompts parallels in my mind/heart. I’m sure scuba diving at night is the closest I’ll ever come to a space walk, for instance. Motorcycle riding, exotic travel, martial arts… all things I have or will converted to spec fic fodder. I think, as writers, it’s too easy to get stuck in our garrets (sp?), but personally I think there is no Internet equivalent for new experiences (and the emotions they prompt, which is really key to convincing fic, IMHO).

  2. Parker Peevyhouse

    I recently *had* to read a book all about chocolate making for a project I was researching. I love that kind of research.

  3. True, Joni. Wikipedia is open for all to put info in. But it’s so much fun to use. Nighttime scuba diving sounds nice.

    Chocolate :) Sounds yummy!

  4. shaunduke

    I’m actually quite fond of article databases, although you can’t access those for free unless you’re in a college library or a student at a university/college. JSTOR is a fantastic place to find articles on things and it’s sometimes a lot more fun to research there than elsewhere (at least for me). I’ve found some pretty awesome articles through JSTOR. I think they’re pretty cheap too, if you want to join. I don’t know, though, since I have access through my university.


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