When Research for a Story turns Questionable
by Melissa J. Crispin
A fun fact about me: I love the idea of putting a spin on fairy tales and legends.
To prove this, I have written a Beauty and the Beast retelling called The Crimson Curse that was released with Roane Publishing last year. My twist on the classic story was to make Beast a woman.
Just the other day, I began a new tale that will be a Robin Hood retelling. Without giving too much away, I will divulge that one of the characters is going to die a suspicious death. I wanted to make sure that whatever I wrote into the story would be believable, and so I turned to Google and began searching for information. Some of my searches were mundane. They were related to things like…
- Drinkware and attire in medieval times
- Common Old English phrases
- Daily life of noble men in the middle ages
These helped to shape the era in my mind and gather various traits and physical descriptions for characters. But then, my later searches morphed into topics of a more questionable nature. Those touched on subjects such as…
- Poisonous plants
- Followed by several searches of… [poisonous plant name] overview, symptoms, effects, etc
- Tasteless, colorless, odorless lethal poisons
It occurred to me that my recent browsing history could potentially be unsettling to someone who didn’t know me. Also, in the event that someone died from food poisoning in my area, I’d be a prime suspect! I could just imagine myself trying to explain to authorities that all of my research was only for a story.
I’m sure that other writers have found themselves researching strange, unusual, and at times, morbid themes for the sake of a compelling story. Have you ever searched for information and hoped no one ever found out about it?
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