The Power of Google: Waste Less Time Researching

Or, Why I Love the Internet;

Or, There Is No Excuse for Having an Inaccurate Historical Novel Nowadays;

Or, Damn You, Internet, for Taking Away My Excuses to Be a Lazy Historical Writer Who Cuts Corners and Just Makes Things Up

Because, yeah, all of the above.  I’ve blogged before about how much I love the proliferation of information on the internet…the fact that if somebody has bothered to compile some historical sources and statistics on a particular narrow aspect of history, then they have probably also devoted a website to it, so that in your time of need for just that particular niche information you can access it with a few targeted Google searches and a few hours (at most) of reading.  This in contrast to the tens to hundreds of hours of reading and cross-referencing that would be necessary to compile the research in the first place, which in the old days before the internet everyone who wanted the angle on history would have had to go piece together themselves.

Last night I spent time researching the London wharves and docks in the 1810s–along with the streets around them–as well as the anatomy of merchant ships and the ending of the East India Company’s governmentally chartered monopoly on trade with India. Doing the research has put a kink in my writing, especially as this is a part of London I’ve only encountered once or twice before in romance novels (which I am always hesitant to trust without corroborating the research) so I’m having to do both a lot of background reading and a bit of digging for the specific information that I require.

And it’s in a way crazy that I’m doing this much research, because this is not a large part of the story–it’s literally one scene, and the focus of the scene is absolutely on what is being imported and not what happens on the wharf itself.  Since I know about the relative prices of fabric, however, as well as what would have been coming from India and what it would have been used for (and thank God being a fashion history nerd has allowed me to cut SOME corner, somewhere, at last!), I knew I needed to get the scene of the riverside itself and the ship itself right. I mean, my philosophy on research is pretty much go big or go home. If I’ve got it half-right, then I should get it all right.  If it’s half wrong, I may as well be all wrong and save myself the trouble of researching even the half I got right. 

Clearly, I am choosing to at least attempt to be all right. I may not get there; I have also expressed before that much of researching is knowing what to even look for, and if you don’t know to ask and don’t happen to stumble onto the fact then you may end up getting something really blatant wrong. In which case…oops. (Actually in which case, yay self-publishing ebooks, because you can correct it for any purchases going forward the second you realize it’s wrong, AND the people who’ve already bought it should get the new version if they resync their device to that title, at least on Amazon….)  But I am at least putting in the legwork on the questions I do know to ask.

Honestly?  Quite a good thing I am doing this research, because the working Themes riverfront really was not how I sort of pictured things in my head.

But it decimated my writing stats for the day, which in turn hurt them for the week. 

Guess it’s time to harness my ole muse to the sled and starting cracking the whip. Mush! Mush! MUSHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Filed under Research, Writing

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