Friday, January 2, 2009

Internet Research - by Laura Griffith

Internet Research

by Laura Griffith

They call this day and age the Information Age. It's a time when any piece of information you might need seems to be available at the tip of your finger - or, more accurately, at the click of a mouse. Most of us can now barely remember a time when information couldn't be brought into our homes and onto our computers through the amazing technology of the Internet. That was a time when we had to go to the library and remember what we had learned about using the (gasp) card catalogs. Now, through the wonders of search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Ask, we can save hours of navigating the endless library aisles for that one book they have in on Jesse James. We simply type in his name and - voila - hundreds of websites for our viewing pleasure on the subject. No waiting in line to check out, no books out of stock, and no having to bundle up on a cold winter's day to return the book two weeks later. Seems too good to be true, doesn't it? In some ways it is a writer's salvation - and in some ways it can be our demise.

Using information on the Internet is fantastically convenient, but the danger in using it is making sure that the information you are using is reliable. One of a writer's greatest gifts is the ability to research - it's what makes our stories believable. And doing your research prevents those nasty emails from dedicated readers and critics who pick apart your book for flaws. The problem with using the Internet is that there are a lot unreliable sources out there. So, it is just as important to do research on the site you get the information from as doing the research on the story subject itself. Make sure that the site you are using is well-known for accurate information, or has been cited as accurate from a reliable source. If you are using a well-known site - like a news source, medical source, or technical source - make sure that the website is the official site of the source you are looking for. A lot of inaccuracies can come from typing in the web address incorrectly or using an incorrect extension (.com instead of .org for instance). I find it helpful to keep a list of reliable sources I have found over the years, so I am comfortable going back to those sources in the future.

One particular source that writers should be weary of is wiki's. A wiki is a source in which people can log into and type information on a subject. This is a well-known internet tool and is very good for getting ideas on where to start research on a subject. However, the information on these types of websites should not be taken at face value. It needs to be double and triple-checked for accuracy before using in a story. One person's opinion or possibly flawed research might be the difference between a believable story and one that a critic shakes his head at as far-fetched. In short, the best advice to be given on any type of internet research is this: research your research. It may take some extra time, but in the end - it will make all the difference in making your readers accept the tale you have woven for them.

Copyright 2008 - Laura Griffith

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The Literary Lynnch Pen is a weekly newsletter published by Lynn Tincher. About Lynn: Lynn was born in the small town of La Grange, Kentucky and grew up in Goshen. Lynn studied Theater Arts in College in hopes of becoming a Drama/English teacher. She has written articles in local newspapers and travel brochures. Now, she is focused on writing novels, short stories and poems. The second edition of her book "Afterthoughts" will be released in April of 2009 with the sequel "Left in the Dark" to be released on October of 2009. She also manages Artist Corner, an artist social website dedicated to help all artists become successful. Her eZine and website provides helpful tips and information. Lynn also provides email list management services. She has partnered with Constant Contact to help provide authors, artists, and small businesses the services to manage their email lists and marketing strategies, eZines, electronic newsletters, coupons and bulletins. Please visit: