Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Doing research on the fly

4 Comments

No, I don’t mean the study of entomology.

I said I’d keep you posted, so here I am.
I love what I am writing – it’s an espionage thriller, so I’m not completely out of my depths.

I’m currently taking a pause after two hours and some.
I have 2000 words – prologue, first chapter introducing two of the three main characters, and a bit of the second chapter.
Much of the “bit of the second chapter” will have to go – because I’ve just seen a way to write it more dynamically.
But it’s all right, and I am about to award myself a small ice cream.

Mars-Ice-Cream-140-calories-76g-fat-124g-sugar

I could have written more, but I had to do research on the fly.
And so I thought I’d do a short post on the way I handled it.
Maybe someone’s interested.

First thing – I usually do some research before I start writing, but this is an urgent thing, the story is outlined, I can start typing and look for info as I go.
And thank goodness for the Internet.

So, I start writing.
As I go on, I stumble on bits that might benefit from a little detail. As I said in the past, I do research for the fun of it, yes, but also because dropping some real, verified detail in a made-up story helps giving the story a certain solidity, some sort of grounding.
Therefore, while the 2000 words take shape on the page…

. I check the website for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International.
. Then I go to Google Earth to spot the location of the prologue. This takes about a quarter of an hour, in part because I am on a slow connection, in part because I have a good idea of what I am looking for, but it takes time finding it. From Google Earth I take down the geographical coordinates.
. I do a bit of research on Wikipedia about the area, the different nations (it’s a border area), the local politics and languages. Just to make sure. I also find a quite handy table of average temperatures and weather per month of the year. Good.
. I check the photos of the local vegetation.
. I use Google Translate to translate a few phrases in French and in a local dialect – isn’t it wonderful that Google Translate also features a lot of less-well-known local languages? Swell!
. I tap the brains of my friend Angelo (that’s living 500 kms away) on a matter of assault rifles.
. I move to Paris, and use the website of Le Figarò to find a place where my bon-vivant protagonist can have a hearth breakfast in the dehors. I find the place – address, photos, suggested dishes.
. through a wine-snob website I find the best wine to go with the breakfast
. I check the World Health Organization‘s website for procedures and protocols in case of Ebola outbreak.
. I find a first class flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to the area of the action I spotted on Google Earth before.
. I get a culture in proteomics through a Wiki article and a short Youtube video.

There!
2000 words.
And now an ice cream, and a short walk.
Later!

Advertisements

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “Doing research on the fly

  1. I always find your posts on writing incredibly useful. Full of good info and inspirational bits. Keep it up!

    Like

  2. Distance don’t matter. If you need me, I’ll be there.

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s