General Research – Part 1 – Skip Google for Research

Information literacy is a huge topic in high schools and universities, and one of the things teachers and librarians are struggling to help students understand is the fact that their search engine is not free of bias and may prioritize ads (or what it thinks you want to see based on your shopping experience) rather than actual information.  It’s made more difficult by the fact that the technology in use is constantly evolving.

Google’s search algorithm has not merely gotten worse.  It has been redesigned to prioritize advertisers and popular pages, often times excluding pages and content that better matches your search terms. As a writer searching for specific information for my stories, I find this unacceptable.  As a proponent of availability of information so the populace can actually educate itself, this is unforgivable.

I’ve been meaning to share some general research resources for a while, but my energy got eaten by a couple of instances of burnout.

Continue reading General Research – Part 1 – Skip Google for Research

Worldbuilding Resources

Here are some resources for building your fabulous worlds, both in constructing things like maps and in developing a world that feels rich and real.

Don’t forget that building your world includes both the physical aspects of the world (where it is in its solar system, how much water compared to land, active plate tectonics, etc) as well as the cultures of the people who inhabit the world. Culture doesn’t form in a vacuum; it is influenced by the space, the weather, the circumstances.

Sample of a Fractal World Generator square map output.

Fractal World Generator square map output

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Historical Fiction Research

The following was sent as an ask on my Tumblr blog:
You have one of my favourite blogs on Tumblr! I just wanted to know if you have any tips for researching for historical/fantasy? I just can’t seem to get into it, even though it’s one of my favourite genres. Thank you so much! Again, awesome blog!!

Thank you so much for the super kind compliment, and for the ask!  I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you.  I wanted to check in with my network of writers to see if any of them had recommendations I would have missed.  And they did!

I start out with articles that talk more about the process, and how to go about researching; these sometimes include good resources as well.  Below that I have some resources that can be useful, though this list is not remotely exhaustive. 

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Clothing Resources

Updated on April 7, 2022

Many years ago (in 2000) I was writing a story that took place in a magical analog of China.  In an effort to incorporate Chinese culture I did a boatload of research, but you know what I couldn’t find?  Clothing.  Sure, everyone mentioned dragon robes, but that was it.  And I was pretty sure that the common folk weren’t wearing those.  Searching “traditional Chinese women’s clothing” over lunch brought up all sorts of pictures of naked white women.  While I was at work.  Fun times.  I ended up having a university friend borrow a book I couldn’t get access to.  It was fantastic, but this was a really slow process.

The internet has evolved a bit since then, though I’m sure there’s lots I’m missing in historical and world textiles. Most notably, I don’t have a lot of good resources on traditional clothing from the Middle-East or the many countries and cultures of Africa (which people online seem to think is one country, rather than a continent with many distinct countries and cultures).  As I hunt down some of these missing pieces, I’ll add them in.

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Resources for Speculative Fiction Writers

At Marscon 2018, I moderated a panel discussion on resources for speculative fiction writers.  I’ll share a bit of our discussion here to tide you over as I prepare several posts (which will all be tagged and available under the resources link in the main menu) with links to tools and essays that may be of use to writers (especially those who write fantasy, science fiction, and horror).

The questions below are some I asked my panelists.  The answers are a summary of the collective discussion.  Huge thanks to Kathryn SullivanNaomi Kritzer, and Ozgur K. Sahin, who are always excellent to talk shop with. 

Continue reading Resources for Speculative Fiction Writers

Sword Haircut

About three years ago I chopped off my hair with a tanto.  For research.  And fun. To help other writers who might need to include this in their stories, I recorded the process. 

This past summer I repeated the exercise with a slightly different technique and a freshly sharpened sword  (it’s classified as a large tanto or a small wakizashi).

Fantasy writer doing research.  Now I can write what I know and know what I write… regarding cutting one’s hair with a sword anyway.

Check out my other research and resources for writers posts here.