The strangest thing I’ve ever Googled for a story? Recently, that would have to be rip currents in the ocean. I sold a story to Cricket Magazine about a rip current. Rip currents are different from rip tides. Rip currents happen suddenly, which I needed for my story.
You know how I like to place my teen-aged protagonists in danger; a danger they have skills to overcome. I researched rip currents and how to escape them at National Geographic. In my research, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines rip current as:
“A strong, narrow jet of water that moves away from the beach and into the ocean as a result of local wave action. They can flow quickly, are unpredictable and are a result of the shape of the coastline. A rip tide is caused by the Moon’s gravitational pull and is a predictable rise and fall of the water level.”
I love Google to answer a question I might have and for initial research, but people—especially writers—need to remember that not everything on the internet is true. Allow Google to be the start of your research, but not the only resource. I still believe in books and experts—real people—to nail down any understanding of situations in life or in the life of my stories.
Always be sure that you begin researching on a website you trust. I know! That’s getting harder and harder these days. So I go to names I trust. Since my stories mostly deal with nature, I start with the National Park Service and National Geographic. I talk to park rangers; I talk to police departments. It depends on what my question is at the time.
As for my memoir about attending college as a mother of five, I’m crawling through what I hope will be my last major revision of the manuscript. At the same time, I’m considering titles for it.
Educating Mother: A Journey from Community College to the Ivy League was my first consideration. It speaks of who the protagonist is and where she is going and where she ends up—at the Ivy League. Okay. Should it be An Educated Mother? But the main story is about Victoria actually going through college.
Educating Mom: The Power to Believe in Oneself. No journey. No mention of going from community college to the Ivy League. This memoir is about the power to believe in yourself over what others tell you. This title speaks of the internal struggle Victoria deals with in addition to struggling with college classes and family obligations.
*Please offer any insight you may have about these titles for my college memoir. I realize you have not read the manuscript, but if you’ve been reading my blog [thank you so much!] you know the main struggles of the protagonist. In that regard, do you suggest different wording or to focus more on the internal or the external struggle? I truly appreciate all your comments. They help me to move forward with my work.*
I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month.
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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.
22 thoughts on “Insecure Writers Want to Know: What’s the Strangest Thing You’ve Ever Googled in Researching a Story?”
So true that what's online is not necessarily true. Especially when it comes to news sites.
Now I know the difference between rip tides and currents!
I like the first title best.
Interesting what we need to research. That's so true about being careful about the info we rely on.
I like the second title best.
I think I'm going with the second, because I do like stories about inner victories. Yes, research can be more difficult in some ways now, because there is so much false or "partly true" stuff out there.
That's very true that you can believe everything you read on the Internet. I always back up what one website claims with several others.
When writing for children, research can be a huge task and I blush to think the mistakes I must have made! Yes I like the second title best.
Hurray for getting through your last revision for your college memoir, Victoria. Here’s my two cents about your potential title. I don’t like the wording of Educating Mother or Educating Mom, as it might be seen as you educating your mom… So, Educated Mother would be better in that regard.
It takes a while to come up with a good title. Brainstorming for days is a good start and then making a list. I think I had about 100 titles and subtitles, before I started deleting them all and keeping ten to play with, before I settled on “Plunge”. My subtitle has changed a few times since then as well. If you don’t self-publish, a publisher most likely will change the title in the end again.
It may be silly but I suggest Googling 'memoir titles'. It might inspire you. Congrats. 🙂
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thank you so much for this, Alex! I truly appreciate your insight here at Adventures in Writing. It's always a pleasure reading your comment. Enjoy your weekend!
It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing, Natalie. Thanks so much for your input on my memoir title. I truly need this. Enjoy your weekend!
Isn't there though, Lisa? Thanks so much for your input on my memoir title here at Adventures in Writing. I truly need this. Enjoy your weekend!
Good points, Liesbet! All of them. "Educated Mother" does sound better, but I agree I need to play more with both the title and the subtitle for this college memoir.
It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!
So do I, Chrys. All the time, and I especially like to check the information with books if I can. Thank you so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!
Please remember that we all make mistakes, Lost in Imaginary Worlds. The important thing is to try not to make them again. Thank you so much for your insight on my college memoir title. I truly appreciate it.
And thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!
Hi Anna! I don't think it's silly to Google memoir titles. That's a great starting point. Thanks for your good wishes here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!
I have fallen down that Black Hole of Research a number of times. It's fun, but oh my, how I can get sucked in. You do have to be careful when researching online.
Totally agree with your advice, "Allow Google to be the start of your research, but not the only resource." I also apply that to Wikipedia in particular, but usually start there. Unfortunately, being housebound due to my health, books and magazines are harder to access – unless I order them. I have a library of older books though so they get referred to – when I can reach them. It's harder reaching a bookshelf from a wheelchair.
Yes you do, Diane! I like finding out interesting things or answering a question I have. Yikes!
Thank you so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your week!
You are right, Roland! Wikipedia should be only the start to further questions. Sorry to hear of your limitations. In my area, we have helpers, people who run small errands for others, like going to the library. Does your library have an online catalogue? Perhaps you could order books and a neighbor could pick them up at the library for you? Do you live in [South] New Jersey?
Thanks so much for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your week!
Apologies for my slow response to your reply, Victoria. I live in Boise, Idaho and we do have a neighbour who offers to run errands etc. So, the library might be an option – when I've exhausted my own or got stuck. Thanks for the reminder.
I'm always glad to help, Roland. I love libraries, and yes I have a small library of my own too. I wish you all the best, sir. Thank you so much for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Happy Thanksgiving!
I struggle with research. Online stuff still confuses me as to its validity. If a site has a .gov in it, that's a good sign. Right? Or .edu. Talking with people still intimidates me. Thanks for your post.
I'm glad you found this post helpful, Dawn. It really is difficult to trust what's on the internet. Yes, .gov and .edu can be better sites to search on, but I still like the vetting of books in the library to confirm research. I think speaking with experts can be a bit intimidating. I'm always worried about sounding like an idiot. This is why we need to be immersed, as best we can, in the subject matter before engaging an expert. And we should research that expert's website before interviewing her or him.
Thank you so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Happy Thanksgiving!