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Research…where truth and fiction merge

November 14, 2010

I write contemporary fiction. That means I write stuff that isn’t true. I sit at my computer, play pretend and make stuff up. I create fictitious people, doing fictitious things in fictitious places.

The ability to make stuff up is one of the things that I love about writing fiction. Perhaps I take a lot of “creative license.” But I cannot change accepted reality without incurring reader wrath. I couldn’t, for instance, move the Pacific Ocean to the East Coast or create an ocean that doesn’t exist. I can get away with creating an imaginary lake in an imaginary town, but an ocean? Not gonna fly.

So even though I write contemporary erotic romance, I am forced to research small tidbits to verify “facts” or give my story the ring of authenticity. It’s amazing how many little things I need to know.

What did I do before the internet?

I have no idea how I got along without the World Wide Web and Google. At least once or twice every writing session, I stop mid-stream to look something up. For the past week, I kept track of everything I googled.

I’m working on an erotic romance centered around domestic discipline and erotic spanking. These are the things I researched this week:

  • Parts of an ocean wave
  • Spanish architecture
  • Chaparral
  • Plants of the chaparral
  • Lyrics to “That Old Black Magic”
  • Lyrics to “I Only Have Eyes for You”
  • Newspaper names
  • Baby names from the 1960s
  • Hairbrushes
  • Names and colors of roses
  • Names of cocktails

Some of the items I researched I needed information to form a picture in my mind such as  the chaparral or Spanish architecture. For others I needed a quick fact-checking verification. For instance, I wanted to create a pink rose that was called Glorious. But is there already a rose called that? I didn’t know. I checked and found out that there is, but it’s yellow. So I couldn’t use that name because somebody somewhere would know the difference.

The internet makes research so easy. Honestly, I have no idea how I used to get along without it.

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