Friday, August 31, 2012

We Still Need Books

You'd think with the awesomeness that is Google we could do all the research for our books online. Yeah, I thought that too and was way off.

In a novel I wrote, I gave my protagonist a gun not thinking much about it. On the re-read, I realized I knew absolutely nothing about guns but made the weapon an important fixture in my story. I couldn't take it out without doing some serious damage to my novel. At the time, I had little money and knew no one who owned a gun. I went to Google and it was a mistake. Information overload anyone. So many sites and I didn't understand a thing I was reading.

I turned to Amazon and researched books on gun ownership. Found one I liked and bought it. After reading the book, I returned to Google only this time my searches were much more specific like videos on how to clean a gun, different types so I could choose the one that best worked for my character and since I couldn't hold one, I searched for videos on how a gun fires.

Another example. I love darkness and I'm fascinated with Carl Jung's Shadow. An internet search gave me tons of articles on the Shadow. Then, I found a library dedicated to all things Jung and nearly died. Found some useful information I never thought to search for and some great words and phrases to use in my stories.

You see where I'm going with this?

You think I'd learned my lesson. I didn't. My current WIP has people fleeing the big cities and building villages in the middle of nowhere because heavily populated areas are too dangerous. I want to portray building a village from the ground up realistically so I'm researching specifics on how the US was colonized. Goggle was the first place I went to and, big surprise, I didn't find what I wanted.

Search Engines are awesome but they're also completely useless if you don't know the right terms to get the results you want. If you don't know anything about a topic, books give you basic understanding so you can conduct a more thoughtful search.

Sometime, a Google search is needed. Let's face it, books are great but the images can be dated and they don't come with videos and virtual tours. Not yet, anyway. The CDs accompanying some books don't count. Seriously, how many non-textbooks come with CDs anway?
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