Sometimes you can’t do the actual research yourself. Or what you need to know is not available on the Internet or it’s available but you’re not sure you can trust it. Sometimes you have to turn to friends.
You’re already keeping a contact list, right? What you may not be doing is making notes in that list. Under the listing for your good bud Lawrence Boozer, you note that his daughter Vodka Boozer is a paramedic and his grandmother Tipsy Boozer used to be a dancer on Broadway. Right now you have no need to know the slang and life of a paramedic or what Broadway used to be like in 1940, but should you ever need that information, you’d have a “first-hand” source to ask.
If I need to know about life on a ranch, I’d turn to my uncle. But if I wanted to know about life on a huge ranch, I’d turn to a friend. He doesn’t have a ranch, but he has a good friend who does. I’ve never met my friend’s friend, but I know he exists because my friend talks about him. And I’ve noted that relationship in my contact list.
I come from a fairly small family, but if I wanted to know about life in a big family, I’d turn to another friend. She has so many brothers and sisters, I’m surprised she can remember all their names.
If I wanted to know about electronic voting machines, how they can be manipulated, how they’re set up and what goes on long before and after voting day, I’d turn to another friend. Although he lives in another part of the country, he’s told stories that make me shiver.
Sometimes I’ve needed medical information. In that case, I turn to my cousin's husband. He's a doctor and has been helpful before. And he doesn't seem to mind my crazy questions. Family ties are wonderful.
If I need to know about day-to-day life in Los Angeles, New York, Minnesota, El Paso, Sheridan, Phoenix, Mississippi, Alaska, and on and on, I have people I can turn to.
I have sources because I try to note things that may one day be of interest to me. Unless you are just obnoxious with your questions, this is not a distasteful thing to do. But if you don’t note the name and connection of the friend of a friend of a second-cousin who is a veterinarian specializing in hippo digestive systems, how will you know who to turn to when you write that romantic suspense book about the vet at the San Diego Zoo?
The late Helen Ginger (1952-2021) was an author, blogger, and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network's Editorial Services and writing coach. She was also a former mermaid. She taught public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. Helen was the author of Angel Sometimes, Dismembering the Past, and three books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series.