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Researching Tips : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Researching Tips

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
Clicky
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Researching Tips

Postby Clicky » Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:59 am


Clicky
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Researching Tips

Postby Clicky » Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:59 am

Hello, clicky here. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or helpful sights for researching countries. In my story (im trying to research Finland and its land and culture and people before writing) its a lot in the out doors. So I need to know what Finland is like in the country side. Any1 have helpful researching ideas or tips??? thanks!!!

jasipper
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby jasipper » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:05 am


bobkalsey
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby bobkalsey » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:59 am

Well, Clicky, I am not a big fan of the Central Intelligence Agency and they have been known to get a few things wrong (such as regarding weapons of mass destruction, etc.), but they do publish a very informative and comprehensive set of factbooks about various countries.  Better yet, they make the information availble for free (well, we all pay for it by way of our taxes) on line at:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/

Pick your country and you can drill down to some pretty comprehensive info.  I always find these factbooks to be a good reference before I travel to some exotic place.  (I don't think they list safe-houses, though, or the phone numbers of local American spies.  For that, you'd probably have to contact the Russians.)

Good luck with your story.


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Georganna
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby Georganna » Mon Feb 13, 2006 1:46 pm

Have you tried World66.com?  I haven't looked at the section on Finland, but I find the photos and personal descriptions of other countries to be compelling.

entropy_happens
 

RE: Researching Tips

Postby entropy_happens » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:07 pm

You also might want to try Wikipedia. It always has some really good articles. If you can't find anything there, just search for "Finland" on a search engine (Dogpile is the best, I think).
Good luck!
Lynne

jmar2
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby jmar2 » Wed Feb 15, 2006 7:23 am

First, before I give you my suggestion you have to promise to NOT fall for anything you may read. I don't doubt your integrity, but I don't want to pass on a suggestion to you that ends with your flying to Finland and meeting your penpal and discovering she is a sixty-five year old fat, drooly male!

But you're a writer, you already know not to do that. Right?

I went to Google and simply entered "pen pal" in quotes and then the plus sign and the word Finland. ("pen pal" + Finland)

Lots of links appeared. If you can get a legimate pen pal actually living in Finland and actually female and actually under thirty, it might not only be a wonderful research resource, but a lot of fun too.

Please be careful. I think you have a lot of talent, but there are a lot of trolls hiding under Internet bridges. And I'm not saying this because you're young, I think everyone should be careful communicating on the internet. Why some sweet innocent chat rooms are actually monitored by the GOVERNMENT! :)

Anyway, be safe, be smart and hopefully you can not only get your questions answered, but also end up with some genune friends. Have your friend Jessica looking over your shoulder to keep you well grounded, the one whose quote cracks me up: "Look, a distraction." That's the kind of girl I need to whack me up alongside the head once in a while.

Another research avenue is the Finnish Embassy in Washington. I can personally attest to the support Embassies enjoy providing to people interested in their country. (I have written to Romania, Ireland and Germany's embassies. Not only were my questions answered, but I received a hell of a lot of literature, maps etc in the mail.)

So: Pull up a chair and get writing. Keep us posted. Your idea still sounds like a great story, the kind that those crazy Norsemen make up about Thor and Frieda and Loki.

John


touchstone
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby touchstone » Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:16 am

Get books, especially books with blown-up pictures. I used the Internet frequently for research, but I never put the kind of faith I put into published books. (I know, who would screw up Finland? But I'm sure it's happened.) I suppose being able to touch the books with my hands assures me they're real and, therefore, legit. (Touching the computer screen just doesn't have that same magic effect for some reason.)

And if you can, go there! I'll hook you up with my cousin in Norway. He'll be glad to visit the rest of Scandinavia with you. XD (Lol, but he'd probably drag his girlfriend along too.) Or get a pen pal. There's no better way to fully understand a culture than to have that kind of first-hand information.

For example, a lot of my short stories take place in Japan. But for all the research I did, it was nothing compared to what I learned during a measly 9-day sight-seeing trip in the actual country. Now I have an additional flavor for my stories and I've been able to overcome insecurities and start submitting pieces. Although, to be honest, I'm wishing desperately I'd kept a better journal. Jet-lag was a problem.

Good luck! Finland = good!

touchstone
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RE: Researching Tips

Postby touchstone » Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:20 am

Wikipedia is sometimes bogus, though. Be careful.

This is why I should read other people's responses before posting my own. John, how did you get in touch with those embassies? Do you think they'd send stuff to a dumb 17-year-old with no credentials like myself? I'm sure they have better things to do... ;) But if so, there are obscure regions of the world that would just make such awesome story settings.

jmar2
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Location: Marco Island, Florida

RE: Researching Tips

Postby jmar2 » Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:21 am

Yes, they will send materials and respond to your queries, even if you are an old hag now. They'll take pity on you and probably hand deliver it so you don't have to go too far with your walker.

They've entire staffs whose function is to support public interest in their countries. They welcome the attention and like most of us everywhere, enjoy talking about things and places that mean so much more to them, being their homes.

For example, when you go to http://www.finland.org there is a "Contact Us" tab. That supplies an email address: sanomat.was@formin.fi

The only caveat on contacting embassies is that some contacts may get you placed on certain 'lists' and men in black suits will show up at 3:00 am to offer you belated birthday wishes.

John


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