Saturday, November 01, 2008

Guest Blogger: Mechele Armstrong

Title: Getting it right

It used to be to research things, you had to find a book and read it. Go talk to an expert on the subject. Read journals and papers.

Now we have Google. And Yahoo and several other Internet search engines that provide a myriad of results on a variety of subjects. We have International Movie Database (a show biz roster of who’s who and what’s what), many question and answer forums, and Wikipedia. And there are still books and experts out there to read and write to. Email makes conversations with experts even easier when you can jot off something to someone a half a world away.

When I write something, either set in a place I don’t know as well as I know where I live or in a different time period, I’m terrified I’m going to get something wrong. And unfortunately, I did get something wrong. I didn’t double check a fact and…busted, though it’s now fixed.
It taught me the importance of checking about three times from several different sources whatever I research.

But oddly enough, I’m not the only one who gets things wrong. I was amazed that Night at the Museum has a few facts wrong. The little monkey, for example, was in the wrong exhibit. He’s a Capuchin but is in the African Wing. Capuchins live in South America. I was quite shocked to find that out, especially as the museum is based on the Museum of Natural History in New York City.
But them I remember my mistake. And how we are all human. My father used to say, "Nobody’s perfect. That’s why they put erasers on pencils." And he was right. We all do slip up from time to time.

But, with all the resources available, I really don’t want to screw up a factoid in my books. I definitely try to minimize my errors.

A few my favorite links to research: (guide for writing slash fanfiction *not work safe*)

Feel free to list any good reference sites in comments.

I usually try and verify facts with a number of different sites. And read a book if I can on the subject. There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet.

A good rule of thumb to follow: Check your sources. Check your facts. And most of all, try to get it as right as you can.

Mechele Armstrong aka Lany of Melany Logen

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