Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for October: 10/5 Carolina Crimes: Rock, Roll and Ruin 10/12 Alicia Beckman, Blind Faith 10/19 J. Woollcott, A Nice Place To Die 10/26 Carol J. Perry, High Spirits

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wasting Time...With Some Real Characters

So instead of chipping away at the work in progress, I decided to do some research. We all know what “research” means.

Pre-internet, “research” meant an actual visit to a person or place, or it meant a trip to the library, flipping through the card catalog or The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature. Often it meant some quality time with Mr. Webster or M. Roget.

With the internet, “research” means typing into a little box and getting blasted with a fire hose-strength stream of shopping, Pinterest boards, Tumblr pages, quizzes, and Facebook stalking.

Honest! I was researching the title of a book I am using in my novel (Dumb Witness, by the way) when I found myself at the official Agatha Christie website. It’s fantastic.

Did you know you can take a 360 degree tour of the Art Deco-licious set for the PBS Masterpiece Mystery Poirot series? Take a look! Click on the moustache for fun facts about the series.

 From Poirot’s apartment, it was all too easy to wander into The Sherlock Observation Game. Play only if you are a fan of the New Sherlock and you have a tough hide. Less than stellar results on the game will get you comments such as “You’re thinking. Boring!”

After Sherlock, I clicked across the Atlantic and back to 2004. I found myself on the Tony Hillerman Challenge Quiz page, which was created in honor of the Masterpiece Mystery series. You can test your knowledge of the Hillerman canon while a tiny police car travels around the Southwest.

 Thank goodness I had a lunch date or I’d still be clicking, er, doing research.

Where has your “research” taken you? How do you deal with the siren call of Internet distractions?


carla said...

I love the term "Siren call" of the internet. One writer, I don't remember who, says she writes on a computer that has no internet access. I can see why! But it is amazing to have so much info so close at hand. (Amazing and frustrating.)

E. B. Davis said...

I once chased a twenty year criminal case involving a female singer, who was famous, after she was raped in a hotel room. After she sued the hotel, dead bolts were required on hotel rooms. The disturbing result was that due to liability, CC cameras disappeared from hotel corridors so that security within hotels focused on the main lobbies and around the elevators. One would think that the suit would have resulted in more security, not less. But that's what happened. Of course, I focused too much on the research and ended up cutting it out of my manuscript, but the hotel security was accurate in my WIP. I also interviewed the chief of security in a hotel and found out interesting facts about the security staff. In Florida, at least, you have nothing to fear. Most of the security force is retired police from the north who have more experience than the police force in the towns.

Kara Cerise said...

The siren call of the Internet is loud and difficult to ignore. One question and I'm off and running down many paths for an answer. The answer usually leads to more questions and I keep clicking. The information is fascinating, but I have to put a time limit on my research.

Jim Jackson said...

I'm usually trying to remember the details of some fact that once was solid and is now hazy when I hit the internet for "research." However, the internet now, as did encyclopedias back in the days of paper, can lead to all sorts of “I didn’t know that” moments.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

It takes a lot of self-control not to go down the yellow brick road when you only need to check the date of some event,

Gloria Alden said...

The internet itself is a time glut for writers, especially Facebook. I clicked on the Hercule Poirot apartment link, by the way, but skipped the quizzes. Mostly, I use internet research to add to or back up a topic I want to blog on, but I have used it for my writing, too. In fact, this morning I was thinking of researching another topic I want to blog on.

KM Rockwood said...

You mean like when I went to check to see if I was using a phrase correctly and ended up reading about an illegal still discovered in Edinburgh's under ground vaults in the 1800's?

I like the solution of writing on a computer without internet access. When I was teaching, we often had computers just for word processing, with no internet access.

Shari Randall said...

Thanks for all the good ideas - writing with a PC that does not have internet access seems to be the way to go - but that means another PC. Sometimes I wonder if it is not time to get out the legal pads.
But then I wouldn't have found a way to "visit" Poirot's apartment.

Shari Randall said...

EB, as someone who likes to travel, I really appreciate (and am appalled) by what you discovered about hotel security. Sounds like your research really informed your WIP. How is the WIP going, by the way?

Sarah Henning said...

I'm constantly looking things up as I write. You know, messing around on Google Earth, looking at specific flights my characters would take, paging through images of the weapons used. I feel like if I didn't have Internet access every time I wrote, I'd end up wasting even more time in revision. That said, sometimes, Twitter can be way too distracting while writing and I have to shut it down.

Shari Randall said...

Sarah, I don't know many people who tweet. What do you like about it?