So, I read an ebook two nights ago. Several things jumped out at me as I read it that let me know that the writer was definitely NOT a resident of the state they set it in. Not only did the describe the summer weather as humid, which it never is, they mentioned a 6 hour drive between two cities that takes 3, maybe 3 1/2 hours, tops. This leads me to my topic at hand.
Why should you do? What should you look up? How do you research?
Now, if you're like me, research is fun. Take one of my stories, Two of a Kind. I took two hours to look up the flowers I used to describe the decorations on statues. I had to make sure they were native to the region I was using as the origin, the color variations possible and what they looked like. It may seem excessive for a single descriptive section of just a few paragraphs, but they were a vital part of the plot. Since I wrote specifics, I wanted to have the facts correct.
I looked up fact pages on Wiki, always a good source, though one I cross check with other sites whenever possible. It is, after all, a site compiled of information by the people and sometimes people don't know their butt from a hole in the ground. Yep, I went there. LOL
I looked up flowers from the region on a wiki page, then looked up a few horticulture sites. Then I googled pictures so I could see the colors myself, which I find is the best way to cement them in my head so I can really describe them. I also found myself researching jungle animals, black jaguar melanin issues, plant poisons and cures, flight time between Brazil and California, weather patterns, driving distance from the airport to a city/mountain range I set the story in, antiserums and how they are created. . .just to name a few things.
You can hit your local library for books on your subject, check online websites, find an expert or researcher in the field/area you are wanting to write about, or just go see for yourself if you plan to use local settings. Ignore the temptation to say, 'Only this or that person would know this info is wrong.' Get it right from the start. An author who doesn't even take the time to get to know the region/time/people they are writing about is a pretty sloppy writer in my book.
Make the effort to get to know your subject if you're going to use it. Or, do like I do so often when I can't figure out what I want in a modern story or the facts of the known universe contradict me; make it up! Fantasy stories are prime for making up your own rules and facts, like the alternate history of the Carthera people. Mixing the two takes work; you have to make sure you stick to the world you create when you write, but it can help you out of those sticky situations sometimes.
Besides, learning something new every day is a GOOD thing!
For those wondering about the next installment of The Experiment, it is close to being done. Kids kept me busy yesterday, so I had no time to write until 10 pm. Once 11 hit, my pillow was calling my name too insistently to resist. It'll be posted soon!!