What is the Strangest Thing You've Researched for a Writing Project?

Thiswriterinme

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I couldn't find a post that covered this topic, but I've always liked this one. I think it is neat and entertaining to see what other writers research for their projects.

Two of my strangest searches (which may or may not have put me on an FBI watchlist) were:

"The most horrific forms of torture throughout history"

and

"Can a human survive being skinned alive"

What kinds of weird, creepy, or unusual topics do you guys find yourself researching for writing projects?
 

msstice

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Not anything very odd.
  1. "What happens when your ship hatch blows off in the vacuum of space and you are in your shirtsleeves" is suitably macabre, but not as much as that skinned alive thing.
  2. "Can you survive a free fall from 100km" was interesting. (People have survived falls from 10-20km up apparently. The answer is a qualified yes, especially if you fall on something that breaks. Such things can include your own legs.)
  3. "Orbital mechanics" is weird, but not in a gnome porn manner.
 

Thiswriterinme

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Not anything very odd.
  1. "What happens when your ship hatch blows off in the vacuum of space and you are in your shirtsleeves" is suitably macabre, but not as much as that skinned alive thing.

This seems pretty specific, with the shirtsleeves aspect. I love this kind of thing. I feel like it is the kind of research experience that only other fiction writers will truly understand.
 

Thiswriterinme

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Thank you, @AlexH That was a great read! I guess I didn't go back far enough, but that post was from 2 years ago, and there are a lot of forum pages to scroll through.
 

Astro Pen

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I think it was researching Romanov Princess Anastasia's mischievous behaviour in the royal household and the selfies she had taken with her Kodak Brownie camera.
(for a little 300 word entry I submitted here.)
 

Juliana

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Not particularly strange, but I once spent an interesting morning watching videos of flash floods in canyons and white water rafting videos for different scenes in the same story.

I remember a fruitless online search trying to figure out if you could sever someone's spine with a sword and what would happen after. In the end, I asked a writing friend with a handy doctor husband.

Searching hot wiring cars was another interesting one! I had no idea that modern cars were so hard to hot wire. (After that I made sure that my story car was an older model.)
 

sknox

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i always end up trying to research random stuff like 'how were ancient roman temples funded', that seems virtually impossible to find without a history degree.
Trust me, having a history degree doesn't help. Much.

It's just that a great many questions are so specific, no one has written specifically about that. You might find out about Roman temples, Roman economics, and maybe even how the State paid for certain things (like the army). What you *will* find is books about Roman religion and, buried down in there, if you're lucky, you'll find mentioned in passing (or in a footnote; always read the footnotes) that many temples were privately funded, but that some did have an allocation from the State, and that the whole matter varied between Republic and Empire, and by region.

The trouble with us writers is that we can't really afford to read four books every time we have a question. It's one of the great benefits of writing-oriented forums. Like-minded people, who will at least commiserate when they can't answer.
 

Dragonlady

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@sknox yes, and i'm currently trying to write about somewhere rural that is hard to research as noone wrote about poor people much. When my brain is fresher next week i will try and come upw ith a plan for what to research and what to make up . I did do some useful reading on roman religion after posting this
 

sknox

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What time period and region? There's been quite a bit written about the rural poor (or are you assuming rural = poverty?), but I'm more familiar with the Middle Ages than with antiquity.
 

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