By Brendon Meynell
It’s the 21st century, and with billions of websites on the World Wide Web including the likes of Wikipedia.org and Google research, compared to that carried out many moons ago, has changed… Right?
While I always hate to be the bearer of bad news the answer to the question above is WRONG!
The likes of Wikipedia.org and Google, along with the billions of other websites readily available at our finger tips, have made a difference to the way we can research but if you want to be a serious author there is nothing better than dusting off the old notebook and getting in the car to conduct your own forms of research.
For starters anyone can create a website, and in doing so anyone can provide the information that they want out to the world – which while it is their prerogative a little known fact for those ‘older’ wanna-be writers who are reading this is that those same people have the capabilities of updating Wikipedia entries to include the information they want to get out.
But what does this all mean? Simply it means, as the old saying goes, ‘You can’t trust everything you read on the internet‘ – apart from this article of course.
Let’s be honest. Some story lines /ideas are hard to research. Zombies, Vampires etc – after all they are not real so how are you meant to research those items?
Simply spend some time speaking to Doomsday Preppers – some of the reasons they are building their bunkers are truly mind blowing and can add additional ideas to your head – or even provide you with some insight as to how scared these people are of the ‘impending Zombie Apocalypse’.
With the amount of movie streaming it may seem as though you have seen everything you want to write about – that you are ready to put pen to paper and finally bring those ideas that are deep inside your head out to the public.
Trust me… I thought this until recently.
My entire philosophy changed when I was providing research for my upcoming book. I couldn’t find any protocols from NSW Police as to how they would respond to a certain situation.
So I went to my local police station, asked my weird questions and spent over an hour with the local Inspector and a group of Detectives who answered each and everyone of my questions – they also gave me some handy first hand accounts and old books they had to further help my research.
In another instance we have all thought about that one Ghost story. The house is haunted, they move in and get possessed etc. Which is fine, after all it’s very basic and easy to write.
But what improved my story was spending a day out at the Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee. Reportedly Australia’s Most Haunted Homestead. Upon walking through the property it is as if you have been transported back in time.
You get a feel for the unique smells a house of that period brings, you get to hear the house – every creek, every door – you get to experience what it truly would be like.
Now how does this help? Instead of sitting back and more or less using my imagination coupled with what I have seen on television, I was able to add to my story the sounds the house made, knowing full well how to explain it because I had heard it with my own ears.
I was able to describe the smell, rather than the cliche, because I had smelled it myself and overall made my story so much better for the experience (even though I didn’t see the Ghosts of Mr and Mrs Crawley).
Another fantastic experience that has helped me has simply been to go to my local funeral directors.
Chances are that we, at our age, have attended a funeral or two in our time. And while it is easy to come up with a story based on that alone, after all we all know what happens when we die. What are some ways you can improve on this?
That is the question I asked myself and approached the local funeral director who was very accommodating showing me everything they did before and after a funeral to prepare the bodies and caskets.
This once again has assisted me with my stories as even though I haven’t used the information yet I do now know more than just what you see turning up to a funeral.
I know the smells, the additional work they do, the smells of the chemicals and equipment they use. Truly an eye opening experience.
So if you could take just one thing away from this. It would be that while it is easier relying on the billions of websites, relying on Facebook, Google and Wikipedia the truth is nothing beats good ol’ fashioned research.
Computer and Television Screens can only give you so much information – getting out there, talking to people, experiencing things for yourself has the power to improve your stories dramatically as you – the author – are able to relay to your audience through words what you experienced.