Research can take you in some interesting directions—as can researching on the internet. For instance, did you know you can buy plans for time machines on the internet? I loved the “untested” disclaimers. I was tempted to buy a set, just to hang on my wall, but the price wasn’t right.
When I was looking up info on FTL (faster than light) drives for my science fiction romance, The Key, I ran on to a page about alien visits to Earth, complete with drawings and characteristics of said visiting aliens. There was some other (weird) stuff that made me decide my character wouldn’t know that much about FTL anyway.
I have to say, though, my research for my Steampunk novella, Tangled in Time, was the most diverse of any project I’ve ever undertaken. Part of this came about because the novella was supposed to be a short story for our writers groups’ anthology about Texas landmarks, parks and historical sites. My park was Big Bend National Park. Since my hubby is a national park fanatic, I persuaded him to do the initial research and he was most thorough. I had some great stuff, but no plot for any kind of story, short or otherwise.
Once I finally found a plot, the story took a strange turn into Steampunk and my research expanded to the 1890’s, steam engines, and even into the 1940’s. Because it was so diverse, I actually added a bibliography to my novella book page, something I’ve never done before, or needed to do before. My links page is pretty diverse, too.
Writing a historical character was a challenge, as well. I’d write some dialog and then wonder if those words were in common use during the 1890’s. I have to say, I was really surprised by what words were not only in use then, but earlier than the 1890’s. We think our words are so hip, so now, but some of them were common in the dark ages. Dictionary.com was a huge help with the words, but I also needed to know when some books were published and when the women’s liberation movement began, so Wikipedia was a great resource for that.
And then I had to try to come up with whacky names for the inventions in Olivia’s transmogrification machine (drawing here.) It’s harder than you’d think to sound seriously whacky.
All this for a novella of 28,000 words that has become Tangled in Time. I have a new respect for authors of totally historical novels.