You know, the damnest things happen when you’re working on stories, ’cause you never know just what you’ll need to look up.
Look up, you say? Yeah, as in “doin’ the research”, which you should know by now is very big with me. I love research. I love finding things so I can take that information and plug it into a story or role play.
For example, I’m doing a scene for a person and . . . lets just say it’s a moment in their life when things suddenly change in a big way. How big? Very big. you might say that, for them, this is one of those “You’re life just changed in ways you could never imagine,” and they’re going to need to deal with it in a huge way.
So . . . lets just cut to the chase: I have a character who’s menstrual cycle is going to mess them up hugely. But, it’s not their first one that messes them up–well, it does, but not how you think. It’s the second that’s going to put the huge spin on their head, and perhaps on the head of their significant other.
So where does this lead me? Into the future, dudes and dudettes.
First off, I need to know when Saturday falls the closest to or on 31 October. The Google is your friend here, so plug in “calender for 2015″ and away you go. This takes me to the wonderful site Time and Date, which I have used for years since it lets me see, in a moment, the time for cities around the world. (I used Time and Date when I was working so I could sync up the times of international locations on our company’s intranet site.) They have a calender function, so I look at 2015 and . . . looky here! 31 October is a Saturday! This is going to rock my world even more than before, can’t you tell?
Now that I know this, I need to look into the delicate subject of calculating menstrual cycles. In the past this could be a bit of a pain, ’cause you have to get out your calender and figure out how long your cycle lasts and how maybe days between and start counting . . ..
But this is the Internet Age, and who counts any more? Back to Teh Google, where I type in “Calculating your menstrual cycle” and wouldn’t you know, there are tons of sites on the Internet that let you do this. Where do I go? I like Being Girl because . . . well, I like girls; they’re fun to be with. So I go in there, specifically heading for the aptly named “Period Predictor”. The input is pretty simple: date of last period, cycle days, and how long do they last. what I’m looking for is the date when the second cycle starts, so I have to plug in numbers a few times, but the fact that I get a nice web calender showing me the “points in the period”, I’m able to zoom in on the date I want pretty fast.
I discover that if I want my second cycle to start the day before Halloween, on 30 October, then the first cycle began on 2 October, which will be the first Friday in October, 2015, and that works out even better ’cause I was hoping for something like that when I put my story scene together.
Why do I go through this? Why would I want such crazy detail for something as simple as what amounts to a simple character scene? Because I’m not lazy when it comes to doing my stories.
Yes, there are times when you’ll have to say, “Okay, I gotta wing it here,’” and you write something that may not be completely legit, but it will likely pass mustard with 99% of your readers. A perfect example of this was in my current WIP where I had someone conduct a séance to contact a spirit. My wife is like, “How is it done?” Well, I don’t know, and I’m not about to get on the phone to Bail to ask a traditional healer how they do it, so I winged it. No harm, no foul. Yes, I’ll probably upset the Bail healers who read my story, but i can live with that.
But for something as simple as calculating a menstrual cycle? To find the information I described above took me all of about 2 minutes, maybe 3 with the number plugging. If you’re “winging it” with something as simple as that, you’re a lazy bastard producing lazy work. You’re like an assclown I used to run into on a political board where I used to hang, who, after someone would post a synopsis of something they read on the Internet, would reply, “Give us the link,” and then berate you as some kind of liar and fraud if you didn’t give it up right away.
He did that with me one time. My reply to his “Give us the link” was “There’s this amazing tool: it’s called Google. I gave you the information; look it up yourself, you lazy fucker. I’m not your monkey”. He immediately announced that he was putting me on Ignore because, well, I was just too damn rude. My loss, I guess.
It’s far too easy to make shit up. Sometimes you have to; sometimes you need to. But when there is absolutely no reason to, then spend the time and do your research.
Because you never know what you’re going to fine when you start digging.