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Fiction Writers are the World’s Most Eccentric Researchers

Although, fiction writers create stories from pure imagination, it’s important to make those stories feel real, so you have to get the real-world details right. When writing fiction, I find myself looking up the most bizarre facts. I mean, needing to know the distance between Earth and the Proxima Centauri isn’t too odd for a science fiction writer, but I’ve also had to look up how streets were constructed in China during the rule of Empress Gao. See, the thing is, you can’t have your characters walk down that street until you know if its made of brick, stone, or cement. What are the buildings made from? How are they shaped? Do they loom overhead or are they stout and sparsely spaced?

You can imagine how interesting research gets for murder mystery and horror writers. Perhaps "creepy" is a better description, but what choice does a writer have? If a character dies of hemlock poisoning, you need to know how long that's going to take.

Choosing a place and time for a story is always fraught with peril because if I am not familiar with the cities, the equipment, the clothing, or anything of that setting it invariably means I’ll wind up spending more time researching odd facts than writing. On the other hand, learning random stuff is one of the best parts of being a writer.

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