You never know what you’re going to suddenly need to research when you start writing.
This week, to complete the Blog Battle, I had to confirm whether one-way mirrors existed in the 1930s timeframe of my setting. They did. The first patent for one was submitted in 1903.
I got to dig through a description of China in the 1920s/1930s and was reminded of a bunch of historical details I’d forgotten due to lack of use. I also found a list of place names as they were known in that period – Peking instead of the modern Beijing, for example, and Tientsin instead of Tianjin.
I also wanted to double-check how your average woman might dress in the ’30s, so I could make the vixen’s clothing somewhat accurate but also inappropriate.
And I had fun developing a new foil for Grant and Teagan – playing with both the Chinese and Japanese versions of the word “who?”
Unrelated to the Blog Battle, I read some challenging news stories about tragic situations in the world today, and figured out how the futuristic tech in my sci-fi novel would circumvent the difficulties of conducting effective military operations amidst a chaotic, multi-front, multi-party conflict.
This week, the highlight of my plotting and playing around was when I toyed with Mandarin characters to translate various key words of my fantasy novel. Translation is fun because of all the nuances in which word to use when. Google Translate might render “I studied Chinese” as “wo xuele zhongguoren” – which means “I studied Chinese people” instead of the language.
So when I wanted to find a term for “Devoted” or craft a term for “Soulforged,” it took a little digging. One word might mean devotion as in loyalty to an ideal. Another means dedicating one’s all–time, energy, resources–to a particular cause. And putting two characters in the wrong order might create the concept of a Forge of Souls — which sounds like a mythical item or location in World of Warcraft, and definitely does NOT sound like a person whose soul has been hardened and prepared for greater trials than others will face.
I suppose if I’m honest, the “research” I do for writing is a convenient excuse to justify following Wikipedia rabbit trails and weird Google searches. I’m okay with that.
What’s your weirdest or most recent “strange” search effort? Tell me in a comment. Maybe it’ll spark an idea.