Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wonderful, Frustrating Google

ARGH! Google fatigue! Information overload!

I wasted about 2 hours today trying to research how the juvenile courts worked in 1970s Mississippi. I need information on how my novel’s protagonist, Cissy, will make her way through the criminal justice system and into a state mental hospital.

I’m starting to believe I’d have better luck with a card catalogue system at a university library.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Google. I use it EVERY SINGLE DAY for something. Looking up phone numbers, checking spelling of corporate names, finding restaurants or hotels, etc.

I’m just frustrated by the inability of the World Wide Web to serve me what I want on a silver platter, straight to my computer. Did I think research for a novel would be that easy? Well, not really. But I was hoping that Google would narrow down my options.

I’m wondering how other authors go about research, especially those who write on complicated subjects including law, medicine, espionage.

Let me know if you’ve faced similar challenges. What subjects have you had to research for your fiction?


  1. Nothing beats talking to real people. I'm a believer in exploiting the 6 degrees of separation...someone you already know knows someone else who has the info you need. Google is great at times and fills in when a university isn't close, but it is also a huge time suck...

  2. Try the book Bricks without Straw. It's not quite 1970's but I'd bet you'd get an Idea.