Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Google--my new best friend

I'm old enough to remember when you had to go find an actual book, preferably the Encyclopedia Britannica, if you wanted to research a topic, but I would be lying if I said that I'm nostalgic of that particular part of my past. I've become a Google junkie and I use it copiously to define words, sift around for the precise word that I need to set a particular tone, and to answer questions that come up in the course of my writing. I'm working on a crime-based story right now and some of the questions I have had to ask have been a little bizarre. Just today I typed into a Google search bar:

  • Do identical twins have identical fingerprints
  • Which countries do not have extradition treaties with the United States
  • An undetectable poison
  • How long before it takes effect
  • Where do police carry handcuffs
It's one of those times when I really hope that no one (read the FBI) has cause to look into my Google search history. It's comforting to know that I am not alone. Based on the predictive Google hints that appear, I am not the first person to research many of these topics.

Are internet searches a part of your writing process?

What are some of the more bizarre searches that you have conducted?


authorlindathorne said...

Yes. I use the internet to research all of the time. A number of my author friends often say they'd hate for there to be an investigation where any authoritative figure would search their internet connections as there are things they research for their writing, and not for any other reason, that would look "questionable." I remember the encyclopedia so well. The door-to-door salesmen. That's how we got our first set when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I used them "to-death" into my teenage years. Today, that type of information is outdated within the next month. Google is a good resource. Times have changed a lot.

G. B. Miller said...

I used Google for many years, and the strangest thing I've searched for that was related to writing was motorcycles. The MC in my novel owned a Harley, so I wanted to make sure that she was capable of riding it.

Now I use Bing (they have a reward program) so I use it mostly for blog post additives, with the occasional detour towards things like The Lincoln Highway (yes, there is an organization devoted to that).

The strangest thing I've searched for on both engines was for a blog that is/was owned by a prolific spammer who doesn't like American women.

Liane Spicer said...

Absolutely. I rarely even open a hard copy of a dictionary any longer and I'm thinking of giving away my 40-year old set of encyclopedia.

Can't think of anything bizarre that I've searched for... But one search does come to mind. When I was 16 I had a huge crush on my math teacher. A few years ago I was in the middle of researching something for a novel I was writing in which the romantic hero was a medical doctor (Give Me the Night). I wondered what had become of my teacher and Google came to the rescue. I knew he'd left teaching after a year to go to medical school--but what I had not known was that he had gone on to do medical research and is now the world expert in his specialty.

I spent most of one night reading articles about my former teacher and watching YouTube videos about his groundbreaking work. (I'm fairly certain I'll use at least something I learned that night in a story...) My dashing 20-year -old romantic hero is now almost unrecognizable as a portly 50-year old. But then I no longer look much like the lithe 15 year old with stars in her eyes that I used to be either... :D )