It’s a typical scenario.
You’ve got an amazing concept to explain or an awesome fiction story to tell.
So you start writing down the details. The words are flowing great, and the sentences are pouring out.
You feel as though you know exactly what you’re talking about. After all, you’ve thought about it so much that you’ve pretty much lived it.
And you know that when you’re finish and it’s ready to be shared with the world, everyone will love it.
Then suddenly, you hit an “unsure fact” obstacle. Your fingers skid across the keys. That inspirational tune playing in your mind comes to a scratching halt. It’s like slamming your F1 car straight into a wall.
Now you’re unsure about that last sentence you just typed because you just don’t know if it’s possible.
You’re wondering something like, what gear do you carry when you climb a mountain, or did that technology really exist back then?
Does this sound familiar?
Nobody Knows Everything
It’s understandable that you’ve hit this obstacle.
You may know a lot about surveying, but you don’t know much about history. You may know many things about computers, but you don’t know much about mechanical engineering.
How could you, when it took years to gather all the knowledge for one field alone?
And that’s fine. After all, there’s no one person that knows everything in the world.
Not that university scholar, not that jeopardy player, not even your spouse knows everything (no matter how much they act like it).
So now that you know that you don’t know everything, where do you go to get the answer?
In the old days, you hit the encyclopaedia.
I use to love browsing through this massive, ancient book of runes filled with knowledge from apples to zombies. But I don’t think I ever really found anything I was actually looking for there.
As much knowledge as it contained, even a book as thick as grandma’s special pepper sauce can’t possibly record everything.
Now that we live in the 21st century, we do what any self-respecting human looking for knowledge would do: we Google it.
This works, 50% of the time.
You can get a lot of great information from a search engine like Google.
The problem is that the Internet has so much knowledge that it’s easy to get information overload. Add that to the fact that a lot of the information is just wrong, you put yourself in danger of someone calling your bluff.
So what’s the absolute best, easiest way for a writer (or anybody) to research factual information?
You’ll Smack Your Head at the Answer
You ask a friend.
That’s right. You’d be surprised at the knowledge your friends possess.
Remember, like you, they’ve spent years studying and researching and experiencing, the difference is that they have spent all that time in another field.
Now when I say ask a friend, I don’t mean give Joe down the street a call. That could work, but I’m thinking bigger than that, on a global scale.
The current generation has fallen slave to a powerful tool where they keep in touch and meet new people all over the world: social media.
Provided that you’ve actually used social media to engage interesting topics with people instead of just annoy them with promotions, you’ve got tons of friends with tons of knowledge.
Just go ahead and post a question on a forum over at Goodreads, or write it on the wall of your Facebook group.
You’d be surprised to find out how accurate an answer you will get.
This is exactly what happened to me in a scene from my latest manuscript were I was left wondering if a horse could really stop that fast.
I posted the question to a friend on Facebook who was a specialist with horses. Not only did she answer my question, but she even sent over a video.
How’s that for research.
So don’t be shy to use social media to get all those tough questions answered.
Where do you go to do your research? Have you ever tried social media? Let me know in the comments.