Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Joy of Research

One of the things I love about writing is researching. I don't know why because I literally hated school when I was a kid. As an adult, researching is a fun part of the writing process for me. There's that old saying of 'write what you know', but I think it's just as fun learning new things as you write. My MG story is coming along well. I'll be starting chapter 18 today and I'm over 28K words now. In the short time I've been writing this story, I've learned some interesting things by researching. Some of which are ...
  • The wood from cottonwood trees isn't very strong. When the wood is processed, it's used to make things like pallets and wooden crates. It's also a poor wood to use for firewood because it doesn't burn well.

  • Only male crickets chirp. Actually, I knew this one already, but it's still fun to research it. The sound comes from them rubbing their wings together, not their legs like some people believe. On each wing is a tiny vein that has teeth, much like a comb. When they rub them together, the chirping sound is made. Some crickets can chirp over 60 times a minute.

  • Great horned owls are one of the few animals that eat skunks on a regular basis. They will hunt raccoons and eat other owls. Great horned owls also get picked on by crows. A flock of crows will harrass an owl by squawking at it for hours. They do this because the owls hunt the crows and their chicks.

  • The little dangly part of a zipper is called a pull-tab. It is connected to the slider. The little nubby things at the top of a zipper are called top-stops. The retainer box is at the very bottom.

  • Monarch butterflies look almost identical to Viceroy butterflies. The way to tell them apart is to look for a black line running through the hindwings of the Viceroy. Monarchs don't have that line and they are also bigger than Viceroy butterflies.

  • The chances of being attacked by a bear are 1 in 410,000. The chances of being killed during a bear attack are 1 in 1.2 million.

  • Common garter snake bites are not poisonous to humans. This I knew, but what I didn't know was that they could secrete a foul-smelling liquid if they're handled or harmed.
So, you see -- writing makes you smarter! And as you've probably guessed, a lot of my story relates to wildlife and being outdoors. Well, I'm off to research some more now. Is there anything interesting that you learned researching a story?


  1. This makes the teacher in me want to scream, "YES!!!!!!!!!"

    Taking your own passions and learning from them in your way is my essential bottom line.

    Go, you :-)!

  2. Very cool stuff here. I'm posting about something similar soon...research trips!

  3. Writing make you smarter - but reading your blog makes ME smarter :)

  4. So funny that you didn't like research when you were a kid. I think of you as the queen of research!!!! Honestly, I think you know everything!

  5. Another research lover here. :)

  6. I've decided social media makes me smarter, too, because new blogger friends have taken me places online I never would have gone without them.

    Rena, you're one of the winners or a copy of the paperback edition of my second Sylvia and Willie mystery. I need your to contact me with a mailing address:

    patriciastoltey (at) yahoo (dot) com


  7. I love to research, too. I've written a story that takes place in the early 1900s and it was fun doing research for it.