When I research a story, be it a myth, a folktale, a legend, a historical piece, the fact-based parts of original fiction or the details of a personal story, I give it greater depth. While my research might never make it into the final piece, it does inform how I tell the story. If I know, for example, that my great-grandmother never really got over the boyfriend she left behind in Prussia, then that might color the way she talks to my grandmother about boys.
Good research shapes each character, setting and event in your story. While it isn't a prerequisite to being a storyteller, when you really love a piece you want to know more about it, so research is a natural side-effect.
There are many great resources online for story research. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Sur la Lune is a great fairy tale site with variants and annotated versions of hundreds of fairy tales.
- Karen Chace's Storybug blog is a great, frequently updated resource for stories on a wide variety of topics.
- Encyclopedia Mythica is a great myth resource, with cross references.
- Artcyclopedia is a really good online art reference. This helps you visualize time periods and places.
- The Library of Congress has a fantastic website, rich with images and articles on almost anything you could want. Want to hear Warren G. Harding? This is the place!
- The Public Library of Science answers your science questions
- The New York Public Library Digital Gallery can help you visualize almost anything.
There are so many more. These are just a few I use regularly. Please add any great research sites you love in the comments!
I hope you have fun with your research. Remember, the better you know the background to your stories the better your telling.
(c)2013 Laura S. Packer