Saturday, February 12, 2011

Madam Curie, Beethovan, and Riders of the Purple Sage

Did I catch your eye?  Spark your curiousity?  I hope so, because that's what research is all about.  Oh, I HATE research!  Hmm...really?  Did you know that Madam Curie valued her privacy so much that she once pretended to be her own maid, so she could rant at an overly-aggressive (to her mind) reporter about respecting people's privacy?  Did you know that Beethovan was out to dinner one night, and promptly threw his dinner of roast beef at the waiter because it wasn't what he ordered?  Did you know that the Riders of the Purple Sage,  Zane Grey's best known novel, is NOT primarily a Western, even though it set the stage for future Westerns, but is mostly about a young Mormon woman who is persecuted by her own people because she refuses to marry a polygamous Mormon elder, and instead befriends a young Western Gentile outrider?

You see?  Research can give you all kinds of valuable, interesting, mysterious, and often quirky facts to write about, or to incorporate into another kind of story.  In keeping with the above statement, for the next couple of posts, I'm going to give you some research sites, which I hope will add to the originality and creativity of your writing.

Medieval and Ancient Names:
Writing a medieval fantasy?  You're not likely to find a Kevin or a Melissa, but you can look up Arabic, Babylonian, Jewish, Chinese, Aztec, or even Mongolian names ( just to name a few!). This is in addition to hundreds of medieval names, too.

ePodunk City Profiles:
Want to know something about a particular city in the US to make your story more realistic?  This site offers comprehensive county and community profiles, maps, calendars, weather, history, demographics, and just about anything else you might want to know to make your story settings more interesting and accurate.

World Time Server:
If your young MC in San Franciso decides at noon on Friday to check up on her boyfriend who's supposedly with his parents in Sri Lanka, unless he's out two-timing her, he's most likely's 12:30am the following day in that part of the world.  This site not only calculates time zones anywhere on the plante, but also gives you the local news and weather.

dMarie Time Capsule:
If you put in any date back to the 1800s, this site will usher in a list of newspaper headlines, top songs, movies, books, toys and the prices people paid for milk, bread, houses and transportation.  A great place to go if your character lives in a different era, and you want to know what movies they went to, or what books they read, or how much their parents paid for their home.

History in Song:
If your characters live in a different era, and you want them to know certain song lyrics, this is the place for you.  It will bring up an alphabetical listing of songs with dates, as well as catagorize them by topics and artists.

This is all for today.  Don't forget to drop by again on Monday (Valentine's Day), when I'll have more great sites for you to look at.

Until then,
That's a wrap.


  1. you caught my attention because I really love research, guess I am weird :)

  2. No, not weird, Joanne! I love research, too, and wish it were not such a scary word to so many people :) Even in contemporary fiction, research is needed to keep a story realistic,but a lot of writers don't understand this. I'm hoping these websites will be helpful and spark some interest.

  3. Mikki: Do you find that once you start reading and learning all this fantastic stuff (love the Curie and Beethoven info btw!), you can't seem to stop? One of these days I might actually settle down to writing. Dearie me.