All Request Friday: Do Your Fucking Research

BSS research

So that’s how you perform heart surgery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post comes to you by special request.* A friend send me the following text the other day:

Do the world a favour and write a blog post called ‘do your fucking research’.

The instigator of this text was the book my friend was reading. Confronted with a never-ending stream of historical inaccuracies, implausible devices, and questionable—and possibly dangerous—fashion choices, she was understandably annoyed.

And who among us hasn’t been there? I sure as hell have. I remember quite distinctly having to stop in the middle of a book because the author claimed two background characters were “Inuit from a reservation in northern Saskatchewan.”** I got past it and finished the book***, but it was a near thing.

And that is why doing your research is important: wrong things jar the readers out of the story, and there’s a decent chance they won’t come back. Also, you look silly. No one wants that.

So, to facilitate not making asses of ourselves, here’s the Bare Knuckle Guide to Research for Writing. Ask yourself these questions whenever situations you’re unsure of come up in your story:

1) Have you done the thing you’re writing about? At least once, and in real life. Flying in a video game does not count. If so, cool. Use your own experience. If not, you can always try to go do it. I like to pretend this is one of the reasons I went to a firing range for the first time last year. But if the thing you’re talking about is hard, expensive, uninteresting, or illegal, go on to number two.

2) Do you know anyone who has? Time to make all those friends and family members prove they’re useful for something. Mine their experience, get their impressions. Just be up front about what you need the information for, or you’re going to have some awkward explaining to do when Uncle Jimmy recognizes his own first attempt at picking up dudes in back-country Nebraska in your manuscript. Don’t be that guy.

3) Do you have access to the Internet? There’s a thing called Google I want to introduce you to. You don’t have to go far on this, but a cursory search will turn up facts like wearing a corset outside your clothes in Victorian times made you the world’s largest ho-bag and other gems. It’s amazing how many people get this wrong. You don’t need to know everything about your topic, but a quick look can flesh out scenes enough for you to be getting on with. YouTube how-to videos are amazingly helpful.

4) Does this even make fucking sense? Always, always ask this. Steampunk, I’m looking at you. Steam-powered cell phone? I don’t think you understand what steam does. I suggest you go put a boiling kettle to your ear and see what happens. Also, do you have any idea what size a boiler needs to be?
When it doubt, go with common sense. If only because it’s so fucking uncommon.

*Got any questions or topics you’d like to see me address? Drop me a line at or in the comments. I love taking requests.
**Three things wrong with that description. Three.

Making Red Ants and Hate: Search Engine Roulette

Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1...

The internet is like this, except half the spaces are marked ‘unfortunate porn’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WordPress lets me see how people found this blog. If they found it using a search engine, it shows me what they entered in order to wind up at my slightly derelict corner of the internet. It’s not only informative, as it helps me tailor content to what people are actually looking for, it’s also highly entertaining.

So, here’s some of the more memorable requests, questions, and terms that have led people to me. I can only hope I can deliver what they’re looking for. But on the off chance that I don’t, I’ll make an effort to fulfill these requests now:

Bare knuckle writer

Yay! You won at Google-fu! This page is exactly what you’re looking for!

Submissive man.

Hm. Well, I can see how you got here, what with all those odd pictures I have up, but that’s really not what this is about. Good luck with your search, though.

Submissive men

Weird. Two of them.

Naked podium

…This is a thing now, isn’t it?

Bare sex knuckle

This really isn’t the part of the internet you were looking for. Also, what the fuck is a ‘sex knuckle’? No, never mind. I don’t think I want to know. There are some things you can never un-see.

Correct way of writing a check

Finally, one I can help with. It’s “cheque” in Canada. Glad to be of service.

Handling rejection in a manly way

Bourbon’s in the bottom drawer. Get me one while you’re up, would you?

You will never understand me

Probably not, no. Sorry. Maybe you should try real people?

Submissive man on knee

There must be some very disappointed people arriving at this blog.

What are the seven stages of thought

Easy: coffee, blank stare, more coffee, inspiration, procrastination, doodling, and panic. Optional stage of ‘completion’ for the go-getters.

Where the hell did this chair come from

Chair Fairies. They’re an underestimated problem.

Rabbits yes poop no

…I’ve got nothing.

What are red ants made from

Regular ants that get embarrassed easily. Or someone with a very, very tiny paint brush and a lot of time on their hands.

Caught having sex in the shed

Lock the door next time.

Fucking do not disturb

Told you to lock the goddamn door.

Why is it a bad idea to really labour over your sentences in a zero draft?

I’m glad you asked. Check here. Also: bonus points for complete sentence. Hope you didn’t labour over that one, too.

Pics of sexy women drinking pints

Uh…thank you?

Slow cock reveal

Note to self: think more carefully about my titles.

And my personal favourite search term of all time:

How to make a hate

Oh, honey, come in. I have so much to teach you.