Research in the modern age

The great thing about living in the internet age is that it’s so easy to find out almost anything instantly. A couple of weeks ago, I was revising my MG wip and wanted a minor character to use a tire iron. The main character, however, has never seen a tire iron and so would have to describe what this other guy was using to bat away huge birds bent on doing damage. So I looked up tire irons and within seconds was looking at various images of…yup, tire irons.

On the flip side, however, is that now Amazon keeps showing me tire irons for sale on a bunch of websites I go to regularly. I’m not planning to buy a tire iron. I don’t need to look at pictures of tire irons when keeping up with friends on Facebook.

And…if the FBI ever searched my internet history, they’d see I’d looked up tire irons. Hopefully they’d draw the obvious conclusion: I’m a writer doing research. Yup, that’s the obvious conclusion. Because why else would I need to look at tire irons?

(Maybe I grew up reading and watching too many mysteries, but what the heck is a tire iron really for? I’ve never seen it used on anything to do with tires.)

What other potentially incriminating things have I researched? Various endangered animals. Poisons that occur naturally in certain plants. Ghost-like creatures of legends. Deadly weather events. Mummies. Visiting hours at sensitive places like the Temple Mount in Israel and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Stuff related to the Rwandan genocide.

(Can you imagine if all of those subjects were for the same novel? Yikes!)

What’s the most incriminating or embarrassing thing you’ve researched?



Filed under writing

6 responses to “Research in the modern age

  1. dksalerni

    My most incriminating search would be “how to blow up a building.”

    I didn’t get any useful information either, so I ended up asking my brother-in-law, a retired federal agent, and he told me under which crucial building points I should plant my bombs. Er, under which my FICTIONAL BAD GUY should plant his bombs.

  2. LOL! It was very late one night, and I couldn’t think of the words “dust bunnies”, and so I asked Google what was the name of the balls of dust under my bed and she answered with, “Are you Crazy? Take this test.”

  3. Your post made me chuckle. When I think of the subjects I’ve researched (all for the purpose of my writing of course) I wonder what someone who didn’t know me would make of it…stabbings, strangulation, medieval weapons of torture! No wonder I have nightmares. Can’t wait to read your stuff, by the way. It all sounds intriguing.

  4. Margo Berendsen

    I’m always chuckling over my internet history too. Yesterday I was looking up engineering jokes because I have a character that’s an engineer. Then I looked up space jokes because I have another character who’s an former astronaut. Some of them were really good! 🙂

  5. Hi, Vicki,

    It’s disconcerting to realize that whatever you look up eventually turns up to haunt you by way of ads. Not sure I can say the weirdest or most outrageous thing I’ve researched. Maybe guns would count?

    J.L. Campbell | Exploring Jamaica One Story At A Time

  6. I LOVE crazy research. Mine would be pretty incriminating–crazy and unique ways to die, how to melt a body (including teeth), dark sites, specialty guns… Yeah. Good thing I keep a clean nose.

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