Things I had to Research in 2020 | Blogging

I had a great deal of fun at the end of 2019 when I reviewed all of the research I’d had to carry out for my short stories throughout the year. Thorough inquiry is no guarantee of a good narrative (my wife, an excellent editor, has put several exhaustively researched but poorly written stories out of their misery), it is an end in itself.

It is a well-worn writer’s trope that a search of their internet history would render them of interest to the authorities, but in my experience it is the bizarre rather than the criminally-insane which more regularly requires research. When doing doctoral research it is easy to get swept up in the skill and brilliance of others’ research – when I was supposed to be reading Evely et al.’s 2008 article for research methodology purposes, I got caught up with their conservation case study in the Cairngorms National Park. Fascinating but not productive as far as writing up my research!

Investigation for the sake of fiction, however…well, there’s no guilt attached to that. One can go as deep down the rabbit hole as necessary, all in the name of research or for finding that spark of inspiration. Here are a selection of mineshafts I have stumbled down during the last year:

Bloody Mackenzie’s mausoleum in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow

What happens when you stare at the sun

Bird behaviour on telephone lines

How to spin for mackerel

When capital punishment ended in Britain

When Traitors’ Gate was operational in the Tower of London

Most common places for shipwrecks on the coast of England

How undertow currents are formed

*Thanks for reading, folks. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. My recent short stories include Zenith and Besieged.*

Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, Cafelit, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.

Not necessarily in that order.

13 thoughts on “Things I had to Research in 2020 | Blogging

  1. I think the weirdest research I did this year was about the damage a bullet can do to the body without being lethal and which caliber provides the greatest vs. minimal injuries. All in the name of writing, of course. That said, it is important to get facts straight and do research, and look things up. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m trying to think of the strangest thing I’ve looked up in connection with my writing in the past year, there have been so many! Most are boating-related, like how to get a boat of a sandbank, although black holes have been an interesting diversion. Out of curiosity I tried to follow you down a couple of those rabbit holes, but the links took me to my own pages in WP Reader. Odd.

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    1. Just had a look at these and it looks like it’s linked to my ‘Posts’ page so it seems to have sent you to yours instead! Good job you’re here, Chris – all fixed now! Getting off a sandbank sounds not only interesting but practical!

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  3. And then you weave your magic—and I believe I can recall each story based on this list.

    I shudder to think about what a search of my Internet meanderings would show—other than a lack of coherence.


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  4. I always get excited when there is some research to do ; the last significant research undertaken was for ‘The Man Who Lost His Face’, a recent post, which required reading an extensive article in ‘The New Yorker’ and checking offshoots on Wikipedia

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