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Thread: Research overkill (ain't no such thing!)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Northern Virginia

    Default Research overkill (ain't no such thing!)

    You know when you're writing something and you get this nagging feeling in the back of your head that it doesn't make complete sense? You think about it for a while, and then it hits you that you've been generalizing the dollar-to-yen exchange rate! And it gets worse: your story takes place in the 1920s, when the rate might have been wildly different! Throw in the time travel element that's going to be a surprise twist, and you find yourself trying to convert 1924 US dollars to 1921 Japanese yen because someone will know if you get it wrong!

    That's a hypothetical example (and if it isn't, please point me to the story where it's used because I want to read it), but here's a question for the forum: What are some of the more ridiculously specific things you've researched for your writing?

    An answer that comes to mind for me is what time the sun went down in Kyoto on June 6, 2017. (The answer is 7:08 PM, for the record.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    I can't believe it took me so long to reply to this topic because this topic was made for me.

    So, my first mistake: writing a chapter set on the S.S. Anne. I knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about cruise ships, and it showed. I basically described nothing at all about the inside of the ship because I had no idea what it would look like. Almost all the plot conversations and plot scenes took place in random storage areas, and even the engine room was a dark, featureless room full of the ubiquitous Storage Boxes™ that served no purpose other than cover. Sooo, I researched the layout of a cruise ship, what kinds of areas would even be on a ship, where you board a ship, where the cabins are, where the engine room is, what the layout of the engine room is (how big, how loud, what's in it, ect.) how the alarms work, what different kinds of alarms there are, what would happen if the engine room exploded, and for an entire month I had THREE MILLION TABS OF SHIP RESEARCH.

    Next! I recently obtained a bit of a casual interest in stargazing. This led me to realize some things about the night sky that I somehow never knew, but which seem comepletely friggin obvious in retrospect. For example, the fact that the moon will always be in a specific region of the sky depending on its phase and the time of day. It only rises at sunset and sets at sunrise if it's full, because that's the exact opposite of the sun. Crescent moons are near the sun from our POV, therefore they're only visible around twilight. There is no such thing as a midnight crescent moon. No moon out does not equal a new moon. It might just be something that rises at 2am and you can't see it yet. If it's 9pm and the moon is directly overhead, guess what, that's not a full moon either, it's a quarter moon, a waxing one to be exact. Also you just indicated that it's winter (the moon hangs low in the sky in the summer. This effect is more noticeable closer to the poles.) Don't forget that the moon rises an hour later every day except for one bizarro week near the autumnal equinox!

    Now combine this with the fact that my fic keeps an exact record of how much time has passed between chapters and oh no you can see where this is going. Like all authors, I love to have glorious moonlight illuminating my characters in the night scenes, which meant that pretty much every single night scene had a full moon regardless of whether or not it made any sense. But the text explicitly said it's been two weeks since that other chapter it literally cannot be a full moon. Cue me bringing up the best moon calculator on the internet and fussing about with the years to find one that would give suitable phases for every chapter in my fic. And yes, I know that this is another universe, who's to say that the moon follows the same orbit as ours? To which I offer the rebuttal: do you really think I want to go through the even worse effort of inventing my own unique lunar cycle?

    (One last note: I recently read a fic where, for the first half of it, I was dead convinced that the moon and earth were tidally locked to each other because of the unique way the night sky was described, and then was very confused when that was later disproven.)

    Last edited by Chibi Pika; 18th June 2017 at 7:43 PM.

    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 4/12 pages

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    I googled digi**** to see what I would get. Nothing interesting though and dosen't look like it's been used. Was thinking of something to insult a digimon tamer with.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Digital World


    This is not something ridiculous, but a very important core element of my fic, and possibly for any "realistic" pokemon battle.

    Pokemon Battle, is a combative sport, yet also a form of war. So I go research things about fencing, boxing, wrestling, martial arts, self-defense arts, etc. And the topmost of all: The Art of War.

    The Art of War is known as the bible of war tactics, originated from ancient China, and nowadays still studied by many military and even applied to non-military fields. Its 13 chapters teaching how to conquer the opponent without defeating the opponent is just that suitable to describe what the trainer should do in Pokemon Battle. I would say this is just the kind of knowledge a successful pokemon trainer must learn.

    Of course I dig myself into this book of The Art of War (luckily my father had a copy of this book in his book collection), and applied that to my battle choreography within my fic (Just a side note. Before I start writing fanfic, I never ever touched that book. Because it is so boring!). Pokemon Battle, is a war of tactics. Yeah you love and care for your own handheld such that they will train well and listen to you. But on the battlefield, love and friendship will not create any miracles. What you need in order to obtain victory, is the appropriate strategy and tactics.
    Chapter 1: 謎の世界の生き物、闘うトレーナーたち

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015


    I've been meaning to post in this thread for a while...

    Probably my biggest research project in a fic so far has been snowstorm on the yellow sea, due to it's setting. First off, it's set in the real world (with pokemon of course), so I have to hypothesize how pokemon would fit in within the real world (how journeys would work, what does being the champion mean to the people in this world, are there any restrictions on pokemon due to safety concerns etc etc.)

    But probably my largest amount of research went to one of the countries that the story is set in, North Korea. When I first started writing this story, I wrote with the idea that I wasn't going to half-*** this as some sort of 'ha ha kim jong-un is a fat dude who likes dumb movies' joke fic (i.e The Interview). I was going make this a serious fic, like the subject deserves to be treated. With that, I had to do a lot of research.

    So, for example, Marie, my main character, ended up in the coastal city of Nampo, not too far from the capital city of Pyongyang. This would mean that I would go on the internet, look up information about Nampo, pictures of the streets, it's landmarks, and how Marie would get to Pyongyang (through 'Youth Hero Motorway'!). I also read up on how children in North Korea grew up, what their military was like, what their propaganda was like, what they did in their free time and what defectors thought about the outside world.

    Also, two of my main characters are part of an all girl group called Moranbong, which really exists! For most of the first half of the story, I was watching concert videos captured on a video stream of North Korean television run by an organization called Unification Broadcasting, and posted on youtube, with bad quality and no English translation. As I started writing, someone started a youtube channel with concert snippets in high definition and with English subtitles. I also discovered a wordpress blog run by a Finnish professor that named almost all of Moranbong's members, had song lists for all concerts, and had interesting notes on the prehistory and posthistory of the band. If you're curious, here's one of Moranbong's videos.

    Here are some books and movies that I reccomend if you want to read up about the country.


    The Cleanest Race by B. R. Meyers

    Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

    The Impossible State by Victor Cha

    Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim


    Songs from the North

    Under The Sun

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    The bottom of a lake


    Nice idea for a topic!

    Hmm, I wouldn't say I've doen any "overkill" on my research. Things I looked up the most were the anatomy of the human leg to see if it could withstand injury well enough without incapacitating the person. I also did some research about life boats/rafts on large ships so one of my character's plans could have worked, although because of shenanigans it didn't. I also looked up the traditional Japanese holiday Tanabata since it was being celebrated (though not by name) in one of the chapters and it's the origin for Jirachi. I also went digging through the old Ruby/Sapphire Pokemon Special manga to see what city the Gym Leader conference was held in (Fortree).

    For my latest Yuletide entry, I looked up Saami folklore and legends and names and made it the setting for my town; I found out villages had a seidis used to connect our world with the spiritual world and what they would do to call on spirits. They apparently also had mediators for the spiritual world called naoidi that needed a ceremony for him to leave his body and ascend to the spiritual world.

    On the non-Pokemon side of things, I looked up to see what period of ancient Egypt was three-thousand years ago, when Yu-Gi-Oh! was set (it's the 18th Dynasty in case anyone wanted to know).

    My fic, Drowning.
    Cye of the Torrent is my bishie.
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  7. #7


    While researching for an original crime 'cyberpunk noir' fiction I was writing, I threw together a pinterest board. It included information on hiring a private investigator, how to spot a liar. I also looked at crime scenes and psychological mindsets. In the end I had to make sure I tagged that board as 'writing inspiration' XD

    For an upcoming character in my current 'fic, I remembered that pinterest board and realised I'd not actually pinned the research I wanted. So I had to actively seek out the differences between a psychopath and sociopath. This kind of research really makes me worry if someone were to view my history XD I can see why crime authors have the 'I'm a writer' excuse now.
    A Fanfiction Author Who Dares to be Different
    A glimmer of hope in a war-torn world - The End
    Cyberpunk fantasy meets Pokemon Mystery Dungeon - Glitched / Switch (a tie-in one-shot)
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    The Time-Space Continuum


    This isn't super-ridiculous, but quite often when I'm writing an OC or coming up with an original name for a fic, I will take a word relating to said character or fic, and search up a bunch of translations for it. If it's a fic title then I'll usually just pick the best sounding one, but then when it comes to the character name I have to think about the country that I want them to be connected to, then search for the word I'm looking for in the language of that country, then look for names similar to that. Here are a few examples:

    Vita, an OC in my first multi-chapter fic that I later cancelled. I searched for the word "defect" in Latin, then searched for names similar to that. "Vita" actually means "life" in Latin but ah well. I cancelled the fic anyways.

    Tano, part of the title for my proper first multi-chapter fic I put on and Serebii. It was based around the stat trainers, and there are five of them, so I looked up translations online for the word "five". The one that piqued my interest was Tano, the Swahili translation for the word.

    Eira, my first ever text-based RPG character. I searched up Norwegian names meaning "snow", since she has ice and water powers and loves the cold.
    Last edited by Nerdy McNerdface; 5th July 2017 at 3:38 PM.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Fortifying my position


    While this isn't exactly research, I am training in multiple martial arts. As a result, I can write fight scenes a bit better.
    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I lay down my weapon, and watch it rust.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012


    Wow, what a list I could post here, but I will keep this short.
    Here are a only a few of the things I have researched for my novels and other writings.

    The British Empire (this A LOT)
    Various museums/libraries/airports/other miscellaneous buildings around the world (so many of them)
    Particle accelerators (this I was already doing, but I incorporated my knowledge into my writings)
    Other physics topics (see above)
    Ships of the nineteenth century (especially British ones)
    Naming systems of settlements/cities/etc. (Mostly British systems)
    Dream analysis (again, I was already doing this)

    Those are only some of the many topics I have researched over the past several years.
    Just obtained a New 3DS: New Friend Code: 2423-5573-9673
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004


    So I have fun research to report, almost all of it related to Japan.

    First, I've got one kinda similar to the one that anon opened the thread with. I had to check what time the sun set in Osaka on October 31, 1998 (5:05, which meant that the scene in Goldenrod that I was writing needed to be nighttime.)

    Then, I had the issue of needing to move my characters from Viridian to Goldenrod and figuring out the best way to do that. I checked the distances of their irl counterparts and found them to be way too far to reasonably fly a Pokemon without it taking hours (especially not two people riding the same Pokemon!) We all know the in-game Magnet Train is a fast way to travel from Saffron to Goldenrod, but what about Viridian? Turns out, some of the high-speed lines in Japan run right past the city Viridian is based on. The trip would take about three hours and cost 130,000 yen (around $120) (Also, fun fact, the in-game Magnet Train running straight from Saffron to Goldenrod references a not-yet-built line that would run from Tokyo to Osaka in about an hour!)

    And lastly, I suddenly realized that my fic has like 38742 instances of Pokemon making quick flights between Celadon and an island off the coast of Lavender. Would this take too long? Nope, only 40 minutes, assuming a rather modest flight speed of 80mph. Phew.


    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 4/12 pages

  12. #12


    Things I've researched for Obsession include
    -different types of desks (still couldn't find the one I was thinking of!)
    -large machine and vehicle construction, such as giant ships
    -northern Pacific ocean beach environment, including trips to the coast
    -various art styles
    -history of fossil discovery
    -what goes into making a museum exhibit
    -Szechuan banquet cuisine and decoration
    -Pokémon names in various languages
    -conversion rates between the 1980s and today
    -various modern kimono fashions worn by widows

    And ohhhh so much more.
    The world's greatest collector as drawn by Yoru Ryu
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    Answering Machine, winner of Most Heartbreaking Scene 2013!
    Heart Like A Stone, winner of Most Heartbreaking Fic and 3rd place Best Canon Character-Centric 2014!
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