Research Tool-Real Life



Sometimes you get this crazy idea that you want to write a story that takes place in a circumstance that you have never been in. For example, you want to write about being stranded or being held hostage, something bananas like that. Unless you feel like being held hostage there is no way you can not use your imagination. 

So, how do you come up with the feelings, emotions, or descriptions of these types of situations when your imagination runs out? Or when you need further details? Well, my dear Watson, the answer is quite simple.


And I am not talking about hitting the books or online searches. Though those can be good tools but unless you have a lot of time on your hands these tools are a bit out of reach. And let’s be honest if you did a search on the internet you will eventually end up on YouTube looking at cat videos!

One show, in particular, stands out in my mind. It is about real life stories, real life situations that could/should have resulted in their deaths. The show I am talking about is “I shouldn’t be Alive.”

You could do hours and hours of research in Biology books or read articles until you are blue in the face on what happens to a body when exposed to extremely cold weather too long. In doing this you run the risk of regurgitating information you might not have processed very well. For instance, I was just reading a book the other day and the author was talking about an injury to the cheek. (Side not the medical term for the cheek is zygomatic and zygomatic process which connects the zygomatic to the temporal.) In the paragraph the author said something such as “He hurt my check, breaking my zygomatic.” First of all, she said the same thing, twice.

See what I mean in using information incorrectly. I only knew about this because I’ve had a billion Biology, and Anatomy classes. Had it not been drilled into my head I would have overlooked what the author wrote. But who is to say that I was the only one who caught that?

It wasn’t the author’s fault for wanting to make a more compelling injury, I blame the editor, but I digress.

you can't experience everything.png
Moving on. This is why you should watch shows like “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” Or venture in the Discovery Channel and NATGEO armed with your notebook. (Check out the Investigative Channel too!) You can learn about animal bites, or attacks. Or you can learn about extreme circumstances, such as being stranded in the French Alps during the Winter, in terms that you yourself can understand.

Now, moving a bit backward and using the example of the zygomatic again. Let’s say that the author fully understood her anatomy. Let us say her sentence was more like “Her zygomatic was broken. Zygomatic? she wondered then asked the doctor. Oh her cheekbone.”

Something like this answers the question the reader might have and shows the author understood what they were trying to explain. However, this can be dangerous. I’ll tell you why. See sometimes when we are extremely knowledgeable about something we often forget that others are notas familiar with that subject. Again with the zygomatic, unless you had taken Anatomy, were a nurse or a doctor , you might not have questioned what a Zygomatic was. You might have chalked it up as the area under the obit or eye socket. For example, the sentence could have been like this. “He broke her zygomatic bone. The doctor told her there is nothing he can do, she just needed to rest.”

This example shows you the author understands the medical term but doesn’t explain it through dialogue. The author assumed you understood what the heck a zygomatic was.

Yet another reason as to why you should read a biography of horrific events or watch these types of shows. The survivors tell you what happened in “their terms”. Nothing can misconstrued. Armed with your notebook you can take notes, and if you’re lucky pause the show using your DVR to write something you want to remember.


Research doesn’t have to be boring or stalk full of language meant for academics. It can be fun and interactive.

What are some of your research sources? Sound off in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Research Tool-Real Life

  1. Thanks for the article. I try my best to avoid the television, but I do have some pretty off the wall research tactics, and one of them is simply watching people. Every time I’m out of the house, I’m “researching,” regardless of the reason. I wrote a blog post about finding new character ideas this way a while bag. If you want, I can try to dig it out of my archives and link it.
    But the long and short of it, I interact with other humans. This helps to force me out of my introvert shell, while hearing new opinions and ideas, and asking questions to figure out how these “characters” link thoughts together in their heads. I don’t have to agree with them, in fact, I learn a lot more when I don’t agree, and I let them talk, and simply probe with questions.

    Just my two cents. Sounds like an interesting show. On the rig I used to see that “Locked up abroad” show that some of the other guys would watch at night. Had some interesting tales.


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree with you that people watching can be quiet educational. For me the only time I engage in conversation with a stranger is usually during a shopping trip. I find that I learn a lot about a person’s character or at least their traits. I would love to check out your article, when ever you get the chance please do link it!

      Liked by 1 person

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