I’ve been doing some character worksheets as part of the ‘Magic Manuscript’ story outline – I started with this worksheet template at Jody Hedlund’s blog, which Rinelle posted a link to over at Stringing Words, and picked the items that seemed to interest me about my characters at this point.
One thing I noticed was that nearly every item seemed to send me off on a google search to do further research. Height, weight, and body type? Over to “BMI calculators.” I quickly learned that to pick character scents, I wanted the Wikipedia article on the Fragrance Wheel. There’s a great list of eye color synonyms over at the Obsidian Bookshelf. And so on and so forth.
I think that this is cool, and it probably says something about my thinking and my creative style that I like to choose from lists instead of coming up with these details entirely by myself. And this kind of research can turn up unexpected facts that send my storyline down new paths. I’d gotten the idea by myself that Mandy was from an Italian-American immigrant family, but orphaned in her teens, so moved to Ontario to be taken in by her closest relatives, an aunt and uncle. Looking at the Wikipedia page on causes of death I was surprised to see that HIV and AIDS accounts for as many deaths as lung cancer and car accidents put together. (If the statistics were for North America and not global that might not be true.) So I decided to have Mandy’s mother die of AIDS when she was 16. Her father died when she was younger, getting into a car crash shortly after moving out of their home. It all smacks a little of trailer trash tragedy, but I think that works for the character so far.
What’s the most unusual Google search you can remember doing for writing research?
UPDATE: Since so many people seemed to find value in the few links I shared, I decided that I’d continue reviewing my history and share some more!
- Some bad things you can look for in your own writing. (Linked from a less helpful page on habits.)
- Descriptive character ‘tags’
- Wikipedia page on Archetypes.
- A list of hobbies
- Fancy names for speech styles.
- Character traits
Cool character worksheets. Those are neat! I just finished using Google to try to find out how octopodes deliver their venom. They are all venomous. Answer: through their bite. There’s some kind of venom sac sort of down their throat-like constructions.
Octopodes are weird.
This was character research. My MC for the story in question is an octopus.
I have thought about this often when put on the spot to answer the question, but I can’t really remember any ‘weird’ stuff I had to look up. though for one of my series I did bookmark a site that listed types of baby animals and their collective nouns. heheh
Those are actually some helpful links! I think the craziest one I ever did had something to do with places to rent costumes in London. i guess I don’t branch out much, lol!
My toughest search has been to determine what factors need to be in place, like air temperature, amount and type of clothing, water temperature, etc., for someone to jump in a cold lake and save a dog that had just fallen through the ice without succumbing to hypothermia themselves. I’m still working on that one…
Thanks for the great links!