SERIOUSLY?!: Research Edition



when it comes to research for a novel, the internet can either feel like a plethora of information the likes of which even most libraries could not fathom, or a vast desert filled with a dozen mirages of what look like an oasis of information but is actually just piles of bullshit. Unfortunately for the writer, it’s hard to tell which is which.

Recently while writing both book 3 and what I shall simply refer to from here on out as The Next Book, I’ve had to do a lot of research for my main character, which has been about as successful as you would imagine. In attempting to skirt Google’s policy of saving everything you search and using it to sell you things and possibly help others save you things and also send to the CIA that you may have researched ways to kill someone with a paperclip, I’ve started using a search engine called DuckDuckGo. Which in spite of it’s funny name, does not stalk what you search like Google does, and actually is supposed to give better results too.

Unfortunately for me (and I suspect this would be regardless of what search engine I used), the information available for this particular subject matter (my character is something of a hacker) was of literally no use to me. Sure there’s plenty of blogs about how to become a hacker, but they all say you need to know programing languages and frankly I barely know HTML. Plus, I’m not trying to become a hacker, I’m trying to write one. To make it sound as realistic as possible (I may need to go back and re-read those scenes in the Girl Who Played with Fire. I know you don’t really have to get extensive and god knows nobody wants to read actual command codes (which if you got wrong, every hacker in the world would probably be a bit pissed). I mean does anybody else find research for certain things to be incredibly difficult even in spite of the internet? Or perhaps because of the internet. This is probably going to require that I go to a psychical library or actually talk to someone who knows anything about computer programming. Meanwhile I think I’ll get back to writing book 3 and try not to obsess over researching this since being a hacker isn’t really a main factor in the story.

6 thoughts on “SERIOUSLY?!: Research Edition

  1. I’ve run into similar problems with research, myself. Sometimes it’s just impossible to find that one particular fact you’re looking for. And it’s also really difficult to accurately write about someone with a lifestyle that is drastically different than your own, no matter how many how-to guides or research articles there are. One of my projects is set in a different time period and one is a fantasy novel that requires its own special sort of research, and both have been problematic for me. Even when I’ve done all of the research, I have trouble keeping track of it all and actually applying it. For me, I’m doing the first draft with what I already know, and I will sprinkle things in through subsequent drafts.

      1. Definitely. I’m thinking this may require either some good old fashioned library research or to fake it till you make it. Sometimes there’s only so much research one can reasonably do.

  2. Faced similar problem with ‘hacker/white hat’ character in cyber-mysteries working on. Had to read round a lot of articles for hints rather than hard facts, which has happened with other topics. So had to use a mix of research, deduction embellished with creation. Hoping that the combo works. Not so much faking it as taking a leaf out of docu-dramas and go for the nearest version of truth. We are fiction writers

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